Willow's and Shadow's training log

Discussion in 'Your Training Logs' started by snowbunny, Oct 20, 2014.

  1. JulieT

    JulieT Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    I was thinking about this today (sorry, Fiona, slightly hijacking your log).

    I have a little game in the garden, Charlie sits on his mat by the BBQ and I go hide 6 dummies round the garden. It's not a very big garden at all. Then I basically bribe Charlie to walk at heel into the garden with me (I am fading the bribe! :D). And tell him 'find it'.

    What he does is shoot off, pick up a dummy, and then run to the next dummy. He then dithers, not knowing what to do, picks up one (usually the second dummy) and brings it back to me for his treat. Then, if I tell him 'find it' again, he'll ignore the dummy he previously found in order to find a new dummy. Rinse and repeat....he'll bring the 'found but discarded' dummies back only when that's all that is left.

    What this says to me is that his drive to search for a dummy is way, way, way, stronger than his desire to bring it back to me. So it all just returns again to the strength of that return.....he isn't possessive over the dummy though, he isn't bothered about keeping it. He just wants to find it.

    So got to get this dog booked on a nosework workshop....:)
     
  2. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    Willow does this thing where she picks one dummy up, places it next to the other one, then picks up the first, "leapfrogs" it over the second, picks up the second, "leapfrogs" over the first.... and so on... :doh:

    Although she's now realised that she can, in fact, fit two 1lb dummies in her mouth at once.
     
  3. JulieT

    JulieT Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Wait until you forget to take the toggles off, and she finds out that if she picks them up by the toggle, she can pick up 3 or 4....

    :cwl:
     
  4. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    Shhhhh! Don't tell her that!!! I leave the toggles on but she's not really interested in them, unless she has one of those heads on anyway, and then there's no hope with even one dummy! :)
     
  5. JulieT

    JulieT Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Charlie is muttering into his Lambie in a very shifty way....

    :thelambiesarecoming:
     
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  6. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    That's OK, our Lambie has no ears as of today, so can't hear anything ;)
     
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  7. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    I've been doing a little bit of stop whistle stuff recently. Nothing ground-breaking, but on our walk this evening I upped the distraction. J came out with us, so I gave him one dog to hold on-lead, while I took the other about 50m away, turned and said "where's daddy?!", which starts a mad dash in his direction. I then immediately blew the stop whistle, making it easier to begin with (the dog being closer to me, and not yet in full flight). It was a bit of a "suck it and see", because this is the first time I've ever done anything using J as the distraction like this, and although I was trying to set the dogs up for success as much as possible, I wasn't sure whether I'd fall flat on my face with this.

    Willow was up first, as she has a stronger stop (you'll be pleased to know, Julie - something else she does better than her brother!). It's really funny how as soon as Shadow was put on his lead and I walked away from J with her, she immediately fell into work mode, walking beautifully in an off-lead heel, and being really attentive. I turned, she turned and sat precisely, lined up. She always does this really well when she's switched on, but in general walks, she will sit skew-whiff when I stop*. Anyhow, I digress. I chose to say "where's daddy?" because I didn't want to have him use a recall which could be damaged, and I didn't want to send her back and have her searching for something that wasn't there, which might break her confidence. The point of this was to see if she'd stop to the whistle despite having a very strong distraction there. "Where's daddy?" and "where's your mum?" are the words we use when we're playing hide-and-seek, or just ping-pong between us. The dogs love these games, and have a very strong response to the words.

    So, I said the magic words, off she shot and then I blew the whistle. She turned immediately but hesitated before sitting, with a look back over her shoulder to J. Still, she did sit, and I released her to several pieces of baked liver - yummy! We repeated the exercise and she turned and sat immediately this time. A third time and I let her run a little farther towards J, but we still got a very snappy stop and a very proud-looking Willow. I then sent her a final time and let her reach J, again for lots of treats.

    Shadow then had his go, and he also did really well. We had three successes, but each one I did reinforce with my hand signal, because he responds to this more strongly than with just the whistle alone; he can creep a bit without the hand, which is something we're working on separately. Actually, with Shadow, he seemed a bit confused when I said "where's daddy?", as if it was out of context because he, too, had switched into work mode. He was a bit more hesitant running away from me the first time, but got the idea by the second time.

    We finished off this mini session with lots of ping-ponging between the two of us, to keep that as a strong behaviour.

    I was really pleased they did so well on their first attempt. I'll gradually build up the distance to make it more challenging, then add extra distractions, such as having him holding a ball in his hand, then bouncing it on the floor, playing with the other dog etc etc.

    Edited to add:
    *I know exactly why this is. It's because, when she's "working", she knows the reward is a way in front of her (the retrieve), so looks that way. When I've worked on stopping-at-heel-means-sit, I've generally fed the treat to her mouth, which is a big mistake, as she now sits wanting to look up at me for the treat, making her twist in position. I only just realised this. Duh.
     
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  8. bbrown

    bbrown Moderator

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    Sounds fab!
     
  9. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    I've not posted anything here in a while, so thought it was probably about time. I've been working on all sorts of non-gundoggy stuff with them both, so had a change of scenery and got a dummy out again.

    I've bought a tether point that you screw into the ground and put it out in the "garden" (well, it will be a garden one day - for now, it's a dust pit). I hadn't got round to doing any training with it, and was going to the other day, then I couldn't be bothered to put their harnesses on and, well, I ended up having a go to see what they were like sitting at a distance and watching the other one working. I didn't have high hopes, but, you know what? They were pretty bloomin' good at it! So I decided to do it again yesterday and take some video.

    The thing I'm working on in the video (other than having the "resting" dog remain in place), is steadiness when dummies are being thrown over their heads. It's something they've done before, but not in a little while, so we were revisiting it. As you can see, it doesn't all go to plan, due to me moving on too fast and not being clear in what I want. I think they are also becoming a little hesitant in their retrieves because the ratio is too heavily skewed towards them not anticipating the retrieve. So, I need to bring that expectation up a little again, in order that they run out with enthusiasm when sent.

    I'm happy to see Willow remaining so relaxed and unstressed throughout, because she can get a bit anxious in training sometimes, so I've been doing a lot of management around that.

     
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  10. Granca

    Granca Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Very impressive! I'm going to have to try that, though it might be a long-term plan!
     
  11. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    The dogs were more impressive than I was :D

    I tried similar with them this evening and Willow was having none of it. Some you win, some you lose! :rofl:
     
  12. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    Ages since I posted here, again! I've been doing all sorts of bits and pieces, working towards my Gundog Club grades, which I hope to take over the winter. But today, I'm writing about the work I've been doing with Willow with regards to her fear of gunshot.

    I've tried lots of things that just didn't make a dent. Little bangs at a huge distance so I could barely hear them would mean that she wouldn't eat. It appears it wasn't so much the volume of the bang, but the tone and just the fact it was unexpected. So, pairing the noise with something good - treats or a game - was almost impossible, since she would freeze at any hint of a noise that sounded similar to a shot. She wouldn't react to noises played on an electronic device or the TV; she either didn't react at all, or just not in the same way. With one I found, she'd look interested, but still take food, so it just wasn't having the same effect, even at higher volumes. I tried involving her in a game before the noise, so she was already having fun, but she's freeze as soon as she heard it, so no dice.

    So, I've been at a bit of an impasse, not quite sure how to progress. Over the summer, I've had loads of other stuff to do and it's not been a priority. Which, it probably should have been because, obviously, with the autumn here, it's now hunting season again, which means there is lots of gunshot around.
    Still, in the meantime, something has happened, purely by chance. She has become obsessed with bottles of fizzy cider and cava. Every time a bottle comes out of the fridge, she gets super excited, since it heralds the chase of a cork. Of course, this is accompanied by a pretty sizeable bang, but, because she knows that the bang is coming, and the cork is going to follow, she doesn't mind in the slightest. Noticing this, I figured that maybe all I needed to do, to start with, was to pair the bang and the game more obviously. So, rather than making the bang something that came from elsewhere, she would know it came from me, and a ball would follow. I decided to do this where she's most comfortable, in our garden. The bonus is that there are several terraces, so I can get distance by standing on the top one and having her sit one or two below, then I can fire the noise away from her. That's what I did, starting with the cap gun, which gives a tiny crack. I would show her the gun and a ball, set her up below me, fire it, and then wang the ball for her to chase. The first couple of times, she hesitated, but she very, very quickly got used to the fact that the bang (if you can call it that, it's so small!) was coming, and so she disregarded it. I then worked her closer and closer to me, until he was happy to have me fire the cap gun with her sitting next to me. I then repeated this with party poppers, which give a far louder crack. This took several sessions, spaced out over a couple of weeks, but I'm delighted that now, when the party popper goes off, she starts running in the direction she knows the ball is going to go. I'm not worried about steadiness in the slightest with her, so this is fine by me.

    This evening, I decided to take it into one of our fields, so away from her real "safe haven", although obviously still on very familiar territory. We did a little training first. While we were doing that, there were some nearby gunshots - it being a bank holiday here, it's a hunting day. Willow paused and looked, but there wasn't anything like the same fear I've seen before. I managed to throw her a ball to chase each time it happened, and she happily ran after it. After a few goes, there was a definite change in her demeanour from "what was that?" to "where's the ball?" at each shot, some of which were quite loud. I called it a day after only a few goes, and we went and did a bit of agility training, full of wags and enthusiasm.

    I'm feeling like we may have broken the back of this thing and we may be on the way to a happier Willow. Yay!
     
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  13. JulieT

    JulieT Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Ah, so glad to hear of such good progress on bangs!
     
  14. Dexter

    Dexter Moderator Forum Supporter

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    That's great progress , I wonder how many bottles of bubbles were consumed in the training of Willow?:rofl:
     
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  15. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    I couldn't poshible shay :drink:
     
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  16. Beanwood

    Beanwood Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    :cwl::cwl:
     
  17. Beanwood

    Beanwood Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Great progress with Willow, it would be wonderful for her to connect a dummy launcher with a positive experience :)
     
  18. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    Yes, it would - that's a way down the road, still, though. I want to get out and about with party poppers first, and then find something that's an inbetween volume. This will probably be a starting pistol but I need a firearms license here to have one, so I'll probably do some work on that with a trainer when I'm in the UK instead of getting one myself.
     
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  19. Beanwood

    Beanwood Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Could you also start with less powerful blank cartridges? That's what we have done, however, I don't know what difference that makes.
     
  20. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    Yes, I'm going to get some green ones and see how they differ in terms of volume. I need them to stop the dummy going a million miles, anyway! :rofl:
     

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