Dexter's training log.

Discussion in 'Your Training Logs' started by Newbie Lab Owner, Feb 15, 2016.

  1. Newbie Lab Owner

    Newbie Lab Owner Registered Users

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    Getting Dexter back on track with training:
    Recall: Cued
    • from dogs
    • from people
    This has taken a nose dive in the last couple of weeks as Dexter returns only after saying a friendly hello to other dogs, which isn't always appreciated by the dogs and owners and definitely not by me as he is going to end up doing it to the wrong dog at some point and i want total recall.

    Step one for me - re-read Total Recall to find out where I went wrong, well actually I know where I failed. It was when he got really interested in playing with a ball or ball and chucker. I thought he was being attentive to me but in reality I think the attention was for the ball or chucker. He now ignores me if he sees a ball or chucker and runs to sit to attention in front of the person and on occasion has jumped up if they ignore his attentive gaze.

    Not quite sure how to start on this at the moment, except that whenever I see the potential before Dexter, I clip him back on lead and get him interested in something with me and get more distance between us and the other person. I have failed a few times now and have arms that are growing in length!!!!

    (Edited after @JulieT posted, I definitely had not separated the two out: To teach a cue or default behaviour so that Dexter doesn't run off to say hi or interrupt other dogs and owners games until permission gained.
    Hum, need to get reading)

    Self Control: Cued & un-cued
    • with food
    • with balls
    • with chucker
    • with ball & chucker
    To help remedy the above problem I have increased fun activities at home. At this stage we are working in the dining room, which is my first training ground for any new or increasingly difficult stage we are working on.

    I must stop moving forward too quickly, often adding one more thing when everything seems to be going so well. The trouble is, that one thing when I go back and evaluate it is actually more than the next small step. I write out a plan but in trying to get that perfect, I miss out stuff in between, it’s too brief, I work better by writing it out like a story. So I’m going to stop trying to have the perfectly written out training plan and use my own way of writing it which is probably long winded but hopefully reads well to me and perhaps others. My grammar is awful my spelling even worse but hopefully, I’ll learn as I go to make it understandable.

    I am as far as I know at the moment, going to work through each of the above categories in turn, I have already started with low value food rewards and getting Dexter to ignore these whilst he is asked to do something else. Oops, there I go, I missed out that I first started with him ignoring a treat in my closed hand and giving me eye contact, just a glimmer to start and built up to a nice calm look into my eyes, then my open hand, then on the floor. Then I built this up in stages to leave the treat to go to his place before getting the treat. Then built upon that to go from his place, past the treat to his bed before getting the treat or another treat or two from me before I gave him the one he left.

    He’s quite a star with this now but he did find it hard and sometimes has to take a look at the treat as he walks slowly by.

    Now this is where I believe I made my first mistake with this, I moved up a level to more treats on the floor, when Dexter still sometimes looked at the one treat on the floor but not always, he was gaining pace at walking past. Perhaps I should have sometimes given a higher value treat as his reward and not just extra of the same?? I’m only talking of his food ration kibble here as that’s what I’ve been working with.

    Thank you @JulieT for the video you shared of Charlie walking through a corridor of balls and dummies, excellent. That’s my goal for Dexter as I can now see that I can’t expect him to ignore thrown objects in an exciting environment if he can’t ignore them laying on the floor first. Again, I knew this but was way ahead of myself yet again. I think I need a leash myself to rein me in. That’s where hopefully all you lovely people on this forum can help me, please. I’m going to try really really hard to update with my successes and downfalls as by writing it all out helps me to see where I'm going right, wrong, on the right path but need to step back a bit or move forward a tad.

    PLEASE DO FEEL FREE TO REIN ME IN WHEN YOU CAN SEE WHAT I CAN NOT.

    My first of many questions is:

    Do I continue with just the food for now or do I start with the ball now (whoops, stop what I have started with the ball) until we are more advanced with the food i.e. leaving prawns/smoked salmon?
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2016
  2. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    Recall away from dogs/people/ball chuckers is not the same as not running over to them in the first place. These are two different things. It helps to separate them both in your mind and in your training plans. Recall is recall. Not dashing off in the first place is either a) a cue proofed against the distraction eg walk at heel or b) a default 'stay with mum' when you see a distraction.

    If you start with a), b) becomes a lot easier to gradually move to, I found.

    My attention getting cue is now a 'stay with me' cue (mostly Charlie defaults to staying with me, but my attention getting cue will interrupt his "oh, what's that very interesting thing over there, shall I dash off and have a look?" train of thought....). If the distraction is huge, at this point I'll put him on lead, or walk away with him, cuing him to do something else apart from returning his attention to the distraction.

    If that fails, and he starts to dash off, I'll blow my stop whistle, which has been proofed to work when he is heading away from me at speed - my recall has not.

    And if that fails, I'll recall him after he has got to the dog/person/interesting thing.

    So my recall is my third, not my first, option in the dog dashing off toolkit.
     
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  3. Newbie Lab Owner

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    Thank you @JulieT, you've nailed my mistake, I've used my recall cue to stop him once he's dashed off as well as for recall. It use to work like a dream but not now. I'll start making a plan on how to work a default cue for staying with me and definitely separate the two now.

    I can see now I used the after the dog has bolted training method :oops: along with my recall.

    This morning I thought I had him before he bolted to a couple of ladies and their dogs but no, I was too slow and he dashed off ignoring my recall. I thought he'd stop as he was heading for a ditch but no, he disappeared into it and out of it (blinking freezing too), said hi to the dogs all waggy and friendly, luckily shook before he arrived at the ladies :D, then started straight back to me, this time i did the recall whistle as he sped back like lightening, he turned once and thought of going back but I called and shouted loudly in a fun way "come on Dexter this way", patting my legs etc and he came dashing to me, I rewarded him with prawns and a good boy. Not exactly what I'd hoped for but at least he sped back afterwards. Oh dear, back to the drawing board for me :)
     
  4. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    It's the fastest way to bust your recall - using it to endlessly call the dog back from fun. That's why you need a 'stay with me' cue, so you don't bust your recall.
     
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  5. Newbie Lab Owner

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    I'm such a numpty :(
     
  6. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    No, you are not - just learning, like everyone! :) And, at least Dexter comes back when he gets there! That's worth an awful lot!

    I was thinking about your question.

    I don't do the whole 'look at me' thing. I don't mind Charlie looking at anything, indeed, since the whole world and every moving object in it is a distraction to my dog, I'm not quite sure how I'd manage if my strategy was to have my dog look at me instead of a distraction. He'd have to walk round with his head glued upwards.

    Charlie does look at me, of course, in particular if he is sat in front of me because 'we are training' but then he is going to look away from me to do whatever.....so look at me is just a by product, rather than the main show. I do have a 'watch me' cue which I'll use if the distraction is something I never really would expect him to cope with otherwise (say a dog jumping at him or something like that).

    I also have to admit to not doing the whole food on the floor thing either. I will put bowls of food out to walk by with my dog at heel, or recall alongside etc. But I never did the line of treats on the paw thing...I just didn't see it as all that relevant, I guess.

    Other people might have more to add than I do on this.

    Anyway.....

    I switched my GoPro on for Charlie's PM 15 minutes training because we were working on something relevant to you. A pheasant pelt dummy. This is AT THE TOP of Charlie's wish list right now...

    This is what Charlie will do if I give a very well known cue and there is the option of picking up a pheasant skin dummy. As you can see, that dummy is enough to make Charlie completely forget the meaning of 'down'.

    [​IMG]grab by julieandcharlie julieandcharlie, on Flickr

    So this is our training plan around a pheasant skin dummy - this is about our 5th session. You could do something very similar with the ball chucker. Obviously, there is a way to go before I can fling a pheasant pelt dummy across a field and have Charlie stay in a sit....

    [​IMG]pheasant by julieandcharlie julieandcharlie, on Flickr
     
  7. drjs@5

    drjs@5 Moderator Forum Supporter

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    love his amazing bouncy sit from down :D
     
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  8. Newbie Lab Owner

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    Julie, that's great and thank you for sharing the videos. I also don't mind Dexter looking around and definitely do not want him walking on lead constantly looking at me. I'm using it to help him take his mind off of a too exciting distraction. I don't give a cue for looking at me as I wasn't sure wether I'd use it, I want Dexter to do it on his own, which he does with lesser distractions and then I can ask for a behaviour or let him know it's OK to do something.

    Like Charlie with the pheasant pelt dummy, Dexter couldn't cope at first with a simple command and would dash for the treat.
    I can see by your video that when I up the distraction by dropping the treat, I forgot to increase the distance :rolleyes:.

    I must write myself a reminder card to remember the 3Ds.
    Yes, this training is definitely what goes through my head every night, remember this and that. Writing it out in full definitely helps.
    I'll get my GoPro out tomorrow and start filming. I've used it a couple of times outside and it's been great to see where I was going right and wrong.
    I think I'll change my primary training place to the kitchen as the dining room is rubbish for light to film in.

    I used the treat and train as I needed to have a good vacuum this afternoon, Dexter isn't expected to stay put when I hoover, he comes to see what I'm doing, remains calm and sniffs the hoover or just comes and looks with a waggy tail, then goes back to the treat and train. I work it manually for this and he no longer attacks the vacuum cleaner. I got my short ball chucker and held it along with the pipe, he had a sniff but ignored it. Another bit of training I didn't plan but added on impulse whilst hoovering. Adding the ball made him a bit excited so scraped that impulse pronto :eek:, I must stop doing this and stick to my training plan.

    I'll write out tonight what I'm going to do tomorrow in our structured training sessions :).

    I'm also going to finish writing up all that he does do as it's a lot and so easy to forget.

    I realise my short notes aren't as helpful to me as today's has been :D
     
  9. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    That's Charlie for you....lacks a lot of skills, but enthusiasm by the bucket load.....:D:D:D
     
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  10. Newbie Lab Owner

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    I could probably add to this but I think these are our main topics of training so far

    What Dexter can do at 8 months old or where we are now ;)

    Sit to a verbal, whistle or hand signal whilst beside or in front of me at home and on lead with minimal distractions, off lead with minimal distractions. Can do it if around calm dogs and people.

    Sits before his food bowl and gives good eye contact (Dexter initiated the eye contact from a very young age) waits to hear ok before moving to his food.

    Has never guarded his food, I can put my hand in the bowl.

    Sit at a distance, only to verbal or hand cue in formal training at home or with minimal distractions when out doing training. Unless I have the ball or ball and chucker, then he’s spot on but that’s debatable as to what is cueing him, me, the ball or the chucker! With the whistle cue he sometimes moves forward a couple of paces or comes near to me. Still proofing and gone back a few steps, using the verbal command then the whistle as he sits, as together as I can manage.

    Down position to a verbal cue and verbal cue with hand signal in doors and out with minimal distractions.

    Greeting visitors to the house, myself, Chris and some quiet calm visitors, he’s excellent, no jumping up. But if visitors ignore my requests to ignore Dexter, he jumps up as they get him too excited. I’m working more on the humans because if they do as I ask, Dexter is fine.

    Recall, was excellent from the first time we went off lead at 13 weeks old. Lost it a tad once he hit 8 months due to over excitement with ball chucker’s. Working to put this right pronto, due to my mistakes.

    Walking to heel on lead, this is coming along nicely but still have some ups and downs sometimes like; pulls to sniff; something blows in the wind and distracts him; some people, some dogs. Have brilliant days and not so good days.

    Walking to heel off lead is very good with minimal distractions at the parks or the beach.

    Walking doing heel, sit, I walk a little distance, come back to heel on cue, varying the routine. This is coming along great in doors and out in various locations without too much distraction.

    Sit stay, verbal and hand signal, this is coming along well in doors and out with minor distractions, still working on building this up by stages.

    Place, Dexter knows that place is on the vet bed, he’s good at going to it but sometimes I need to remind him to get on it as can be on the vet bed but as he turns to sit, misses it and sits on the edge or just in front. Not sure this is too much of a problem unless we were going to compete in some sort of competitions later.

    Leave it, still proofing this but getting much much better when out on lead. Especially if we see the offending object before he does. Off leash work in progress but has improved with some things.

    Leave it when Dexter already has something in his mouth is easy with some things and in a controlled calm environment, once excitement kicks in it’s hit and miss. I probably added the cue too soon, even though I did as the books say. Working on this going back to basics and will probably need to change the cue word/s.

    Clicker brain games, Dexter puts his heart and soul into these.

    Drying his feet was a challenge for me as for 8 weeks I had my right arm in a sling and couldn't use it. Dexter would try biting the towel, I use to let him dry off in the kitchen after I did the little I could manage. Luckily it was summer time. Chris worked on this and Dexter is great now.

    Teeth brushing, this is going well although he tends to like the doggy toothpaste off the brush.

    Brushing him, needs treats still to do this but is coming along fine.

    Having his body parts checked, doing well using C&T.

    Using the stethoscope, doing well using C&T.

    Retrieving, Dexter’s favourite training. He’s retrieve all day if I let him so we have rationed it. Now working on steadying him before he heads off to find the ball or dummy or placing it whilst he sits and waits. Building up distance and duration depending on where we are training. Great unless other dogs come along or he spots them first. Keeping it to quiet areas now, mainly at home unless I have a field to myself.
     
  11. Newbie Lab Owner

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    Lovely training sessions today, we were far from perfect, I kept forgetting my release cue on our off lead walk :rolleyes:, putting that down to not feeling very well, trying to remember to use the GoPro and sort my reward giving out as Dexter snapped the belt attachment the other day and I'm generally cackhanded ;)
    We had the whole meadow to ourselves apart from noisy birds, rubbish, things blowing in the breeze and lots of distracting smells for Dexter :rolleyes:
    On the whole his recall was much better than I'd thought it was going to be, he never went too far from me either, which is usual, although sometimes distracted by a scent today, given our misdemeanours of the last couple of weeks, I wasn't too disheartened and I myself wasn't on par today. It made me realise that when we have had our 'I'm off to say hi or play with those dogs over there', I've never taught Dexter a cue or behaviour for that little window of opportunity that he gives me before the dash, so my mistake not his. He can not do what he doesn't know. Now I just need to find out what to teach how to add this into training.
    I took balls and a small chucker that fits in my bag with just a bit of the handle poking out and he ignored it even though he knew it was there.
    Today I'd decided this was a walk to film where we are at now with our training so that I can visually see the areas I need to concentrate on, fix, change and build upon. If I ever work out how to edit my filming, I'll post it on here as the in between bits make it too long.
    Towards the end of our time in the meadow I got out a ball and the chucker, from what I observed today, I'd say Dexter goes into work or focused mode rather than obsession as I'd thought before. But still needs to gain self control if he sees someone else with one though that's for sure and I need to train this.
    Apart from twice, I steadied him but I have to put one or two fingers through his harness if I'm throwing the ball. Even though I'm not actually holding him back, he's not at the stage yet for me to not do this. I can take my fingers away and he stays until he is released to find the ball. As no other dogs were around to come and get to the ball first, he managed this well :D.
    I'm going to work in the garden with my hubby and get him to have the ball and chucker (or maybe just the chucker or just the ball to start with) and Dexter on lead to help us start getting Dexter use to not lunging on the lead towards other people who may or may not have a chucker or ball. This will be after more training of the next part of this post.

    Before we went for this walk, I'd done some training in doors with getting Dexter to do simple cues of place, sit, down and a mixture of the three with the ball on the floor beside me. I tried at a distance first, although he tends to move forward as he springs up to a sit and then that means the down gets further forward but at least he was able to follow the cues. He also managed them close to me and the ball, although a couple of times I had to cover the ball with my hand quickly. It's not a huge room so distance isn't easily got. The kitchen gave us less distance, the lounge would give me more but the floor is laminate so don't want to risk him slipping if he decided to rush the ball :rolleyes:.

    We have a long way to go but feel we are definitely heading in the right direction.

    I also introduced a little metal nail file and that went really well, thought it was going to be awful but Dexter was great and let me move it gently over his front claws. I had a paw in one hand, file in the other and the clicker in between my teeth ;). I'm sure this will have its challenges as we progress but one small step at a time.
     
  12. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    I didn't bother with a clicker for nail filing. I use a verbal event marker - "good!" or "nice!". I know, I should stick to a single word, but the other one keeps slipping out. Anyway, I noticed Emily Larlham uses a couple of different ones, and so I'm following her example ;)
    It's much easier than coordinating the clicker for this job.

    I wouldn't worry about doing this. If my dogs are a little on the twitchy side when I'm after steadiness, I place my hand on their neck or shoulders. I'm certainly not holding them, but it's a bit of a throwback to when I stuck a finger through the harness and seems to calm them. I'm fading it, and don't need it most of the time, but I think it just acts as a little reminder or pacifier if they're over-excited.
     
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  13. Newbie Lab Owner

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    I did find it very difficult to coordinate, think I'll go the route of a calm word instead for the marker.

    If he doesn't have his harness on I can have my hand in front of him, it's just a gentle reminder for what I think is a very big ask at the moment at this stage. And as you say a gentle reminder or pacifier. I think because of the size of 8 month old lab puppies, it's easy to forget they're are still only very young.
     
  14. Newbie Lab Owner

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    After today's shenanigans, I am going to write out a training plan for calmness and self control when out in exciting places.
    I'll start at the car park at the beach. I have started this already but never got back into the car and come away.

    Step 1: If Dexter whines in the car on the approach road, which is a new thing he's started, I'll pull over and we will sit and look, treating for calmness before leaving and driving home or going elsewhere.
    When we get past this stage, I'll go back to calmness in getting out of the car at the beach car park.

    I've started a hand written journal, my biggest pitfall is that I like my notes neat and tidy (perfectionist), in reality, I always end up with untidy writing, needing to add stuff and then procrastinating. New plan for me, don't worry what it looks like, it's handy and in front of me, I can always type it out in a logical way later, be consistent and keep it up to date daily.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2016
  15. Newbie Lab Owner

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    Dexter is progressing well with his retrieving and my hand signals are getting better. Here are a couple of very shaky videos of a blind and memory retrieve. Dexter responds much better if I use a firmer lower tone to my voice. James the gundog trainer who we had a lesson with a while back was spot on when he picked up that Dexter responds well to verbal cues, praise and tones.
    [​IMG]BLIND RETRIEVE by Donna Cruise, on Flickr
    [​IMG]FIRST MEMORY RETRIEVE FULLY OFF LEAD by Donna Cruise, on Flickr
     
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  16. Jen

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    Dexter obviously enjoys retrieving the way he races off when released. He looks really keen its great how steady he is before you release him. I love how he sits and looks up at you like asking for another.:D
     
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  17. Newbie Lab Owner

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    He sure does love retrieving and also finding his ball in the long grass or amoungst the pebbles on the beach.
    Steady is coming along as long as long as I move slowly and in stages at the moment but I'm fine with that. He works hard for a chance to have a zoomie with his ball :D
     
  18. Newbie Lab Owner

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    Not sure much actual training is going on lately but Dexter has got really good at 'leave it' and 'drop it' since I no longer need to use food treats for lead walking. He has come on tremendously well since the change of harness and in less distracting walks has progressed to collar and lead.
    We have joined a novice retriever group class and only been once so far, he was very very good when it was his turn to work but waiting patiently is very much a work in progress which is why I want to be part of a group. James the instructor/trainer is brilliant and really loves Dexter and his over enthusiasm for working.
    It's not a big class and the other people were really friendly, helpful and supportive.
    I've stopped doing training as such in doors and this has helped Dexter to be more settled and switch off. When my clients come in, Dexter likes to greet them then he just takes it upon him self to jump in his crate where he sits and waits for a treat :D
    He is very rarely shut in his crate now, what a grown up boy :)
    We are keeping the crates though as he likes them and doesn't mind if he is shut in and with our first grandchild due in July will give him a safe place to go to later on.
    Things just seem to be clicking into place at the moment and we enjoy being together.
    I get his lead on him quickly if I notice other people throwing balls or anything as that is too much for him to resist at the moment but he's only young and I'm sure the group classes will help a lot with this so for now it's prevention of those situations before he gets the chance to see it.
    I have set places in a field near us and work on memory and permanent blind retrieves and gradually building distance and another couple of areas that are great for throwing the ball into long grass and sending him to find it, he absolutely loves doing these and is responding well to the hunt whistle or whatever you call it. He stays really close by when off lead and if he's too distracted by sniffing to listen, I just run away from where he is and he comes charging after me.
    Probably lots to do but I'm in no rush at the moment and we are both enjoying a more layed back time. Hopefully it won't come back to bite me on the bum :eek:but I'll deal with that if it does.
     
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  19. MaccieD

    MaccieD Guest

    It sounds as if you are doing really well with training Dexter and he is becoming a lovely boy as he grows up.
    Enjoy your training with Dexter, there's no need to rush. There will always be a new situation which you haven't specifically trained for, but if you have a good foundation the odds are your dog will cope with it well - Juno hadn't seen sheep before this week but yesterday she was walking loose lead across a meadow full of sheep and lambs, passing within a few feet of them without and problems at all.
     
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  20. Newbie Lab Owner

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    He is a lovely boy @MaccieD and I'm lucky and feel blessed to learn with him. I did make out charts for training but soon ditched them, lol. Too much for me to cope with. I always have a ball or two in my pocket or bag and a dummy, if the situation is right for some play, then we play with them. Lots of just being a dog in between play with me. A bit of recall and sit or anything I think of at the time. Sitting and waiting whilst people and dogs pass by or us just walking by, learning to deal with life out and about really.
    Had some more walks with Pops (my dad) and a gentle game of football with him too. When I get home I'll see if I can put the video on of the two of them playing together in the garden :D
     
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