Willow's and Shadow's training log

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

  1. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    The method for my switch retrieve was taken from the Totally Gundogs website ... here.

    Is that not how you'd normally do it, then? You're right, though, it does mean that it's a mark (or memory if you do it as it's described in that article), followed by a series of blinds.

    On the other video, no I'm not giving him a line. Yes, I should be. Now, that's something I wanted to ask you about. I noticed that you were putting the back of your hand towards Riley's face, whereas I've been using my hand the other way round. Is there a reason for that? Am I doing it wrong? I don't really have a solid idea of what I should be doing. I see some people straddling their dogs and putting their hands over the dog's head (how can the dog see that?), or standing behind and doing a similar thing. The hand at the side of the face makes a bit more sense to me, because you can ensure the dog is looking in the right direction before sending him back. I'd love to hear your thoughts, though.

    I'm actually quite excited about the snow for training purposes, because it gives me a blank canvas to work with, whereas in the summer, the paths tend to draw the dogs along and towards them, since they're a lot easier to run on than the coarse grasses and lumpy ground. Which is fine if they're in a straight line to the dummy, but rather disruptive otherwise.

    When I get more than one dummy down? Yeah, I have no idea how to go about that without a training partner to pick up the second dummy if he runs to it...

    J would be happy to help out, but he's very busy now the snow is here. He'll be working on the mountain all day and then coming off the hill to do his building work in the evenings, so not much time for training, sadly.
     
  2. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    That article on Totally Gundogs is for possessive dogs, Shadow is not a possessive dog. So I think Barbara is thinking the reason you were doing a switch with Shadow is to speed up his return.

    I stand behind Charlie and line my hand up over his head, along his nose. It just works best for him, he lines better this way. I don't think it matters so long as whatever you do gets your dog looking along your arm (Charlie does not if I hold it alongside his face, and will tend to veer off to the opposite side to my arm - which can be useful but if your dog does this, you need to use both arms depending on where the dummy is).
     
  3. bbrown

    bbrown Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Ok read that and I can understand how it works but you're not lining him up for the second dummy I don't think which is why I was expecting him to have known the dummy was there. Also I think I've been adding in a step where the second dummy is a bribe before it turns into the reward that's described in the article. Obi does a run around and no amount of dummy down that he was unaware of would fix that unless he stumbled across it and then I could probably add swapping to my list of challenges ;) I'm going down a twofold route for him of clicker retrieve plus his breakfast/dinner being contingent on delivery(a little zen bowl like perhaps but I digress)

    Lining your dog up.....I think the fundamental start point is a good heel position. The dogs chest should be pointing in the direction you want him to travel. This is where rotation with you while at heel comes into play. Then you put your hand down to line the dog up, wait for him to look down your arm and send him with your command.

    How you put your hand down is quite a personal thing and lots of people will give you reasons for the way they do it (some of which I can understand and some I think are utter nonsense) I don't think it really matters *as long as you're consistent*. I put mine down along side Riley with the flat of my hand next to his face but some people come from the ground up and some go "over the top" with palm facing the ground. Just choose and try and stick to it :)

    The dog shouldn't go until the verbal command and I give Riley practice lines (I think I probably did that at the forest) because he runs in so he needs to wait for the verbal command. I use "Go Back" other people say "Back" as they might when the dog is stopped at a distance to push the dog back.

    If you want to start doing multiple dummies for Shadow just do what you've been doing here. Both out at the same time, let him watch both go out at 180 degrees to each other. Then send him for one, take that, turn him and send him for the other. To avoid him swapping or trying to get both you can put the one you want a bit closer so he's not far from you when he picks or use a lane so it's hard for him to get past you. Then you can start to bring them closer together angle wise
     
  4. bbrown

    bbrown Moderator Forum Supporter

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    I was only teasing about J ;)
     
  5. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    Oh, I know! It's just a shame because J was buzzing after the training in the UK and it would have been good to keep that momentum with him joining in the training. But, alas, it is not to be!

    I shall try Shadow with the two dummies. In fact, I shall go and do that this morning. The last time I tried, he tried to get both. He can't manage two dummies in his mouth at once. Willow can! :D :D :D
     
  6. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    Well, that was just lovely. I did as you suggested, bbrown and Shadow did it, no problems. I did three in total, the first two I sent him to the second dummy first (assuming this would be easier for him) and the third time, I pushed it and sent him to the first one first. No hesitation or looking back, which I expected. I am so pleased with him. The last time we did this, it was a bit of a disaster, but this time, I couldn't have asked for it to go better. I don't know if it's just because he's got more experience of retrieving now, and maybe a bit more maturity. Plus, of course, all the stellar training. Ahem. Next, to do it in a more open area (I used the same bridge as on the other videos) and gradually decrease the angles.

    I then took Willow out and she was so excited to see the dummy, so I thought I'd try a marked retrieve. I thought she'd probably play around with the dummy, but she brought it straight back, albeit she spat it out, rather than delivering to hand. I did one more marked and then one memory retrieve. She was really solid in her sit but ran with great enthusiasm. Really happy with how switched on and keen she was. She got a play with a ball as a reward and she went loopy. She is definitely channeling Charlie. She's picked up that rocking-horse thing he does when he has a run around. It's hysterical :)

    Of course, I forgot the GoPro. Duh.
     
  7. bbrown

    bbrown Moderator Forum Supporter

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    That's brilliant!! :D

    When you start to bring the angles together I find the left hand dummy slightly easier for a first retrieve. If your dog is on your left you're kind of blocking the path to the right hand dummy. If you send for the right hand dummy first the left one is available on the open side of the dog.

    Obviously you need to mix it up to avoid anticipation but think about using any wind to help you and you might want to make the right hand dummy last one down, short and obvious when you send for it first or at least keep in mind the lure of the second dummy on the open side ;)

    Try and read your dog and make sure his body language isn't telling you he wants the dummy other than the one you're about to send him to. Look for a skew whiff sit or glances over to the other dummy.
     
  8. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    Great, thanks for the advice! I'm looking forward to progressing with this :)
     
  9. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    We've been doing a little bit of work recently. To be honest, most of our training walks are about desensitisation to the skiers, snowboarders and children that are starting to accumulate now, so there's little time for gun dog stuff. I'm not concerned, though - my dogs are pets and the ability to exist comfortably in our home environment it the most important thing.

    So, each morning, we take a walk through the gondola station. It's hard to predict whether it will be busy or quiet at any particular time at the moment, so it's always a bit of a magical mystery tour! This morning, I spent a lot of time in the main area of the station, looking at the people in their snow gear, listening to all the strange noises and getting lots of treats for "look at that". Willow had a bark at one lady, but luckily she was standing still, so I moved away from her and gradually closer, until we could walk past without an issue. Shadow had a fright at a snowboarder in a helmet, and tried to run away (didn't work so well because he was obviously on lead), but then the guy was standing in a queue for a while, so again I could do some work with that.

    With Willow, when it was time to head up the ramp out of the building (which goes round a 180degree bend halfway up), we were a little way up when suddenly a family with four young children, all in ski gear, came clattering round the corner! Argh, panic! Willow was fab and, whilst startled, didn't make a noise, and I turned tail and basically ran away down the slope until we could get to a comfortable distance to watch from. Disaster averted ;)

    Anyhow, we have done a teeny bit of other stuff in between, to make sure walks are still fun and not all about desensitisation. Here's a little video from the other day.

    [video=youtube;qptHvi84tEA]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qptHvi84tEA[/video]

    Willow did her longest ever retrieve, a memory. She was a little superstar and is really enjoying it. A few things to tidy up there, but nothing desperate. Shadow is working on having two dummies out at once and being sent to a certain one. The angle is getting smaller. You'll see that he brings the first one back fine, but goes on a bit of a wander with the second one. I'm not entirely sure what that was about. He will often glance over to where the other dummy is/was, but this time, he headed off in the opposite direction. Maybe this was a case of "one too many" since we'd already done a couple of other retrieves. Again, there's a bit of work to do on his hold, too :D :D :D

    You'll see that I put my hand on their shoulders on each retrieve. I need to fade this in time; it's for steadiness because when they're not wearing collars/harnesses, they tend to move on my hand signal rather than my voice unless I do it.
     
  10. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    Loads more desensitisation is going on - this is still my main focus at the moment, with a couple of targets, stops and retrieves thrown in for fun.

    Now my course has finished again, morning walks consist of walking down to the gondola station and watching the hustle and bustle from a distance. It's school holiday time, so there are plenty of children to practice on, although we're nowhere near ready to approach them, or have them approach, but luckily they're all generally focussed on getting up the mountain, so not interested in a dog. If a child does try to approach, I just turn and walk away - we're far enough away that I have plenty of warning.

    I need to recruit a few skiers to give out treats. A man in ski boots came up to give Shadow a fuss and, although Shadow approached him with a wag and a relaxed face, he immediately became very submissive when the man stroked him with his gloves on, and was pushing back into me. He relaxed a bit for treats from the man.

    Willow generally seems more relaxed, but she's looking to me a lot more than I'd like. I mean, it's great that she looks to me for confidence, but I would like her to become confident enough in her own right that she doesn't have to look to me. I do feel our bond is increasing, and she includes me in her and Shadow's games sometimes at home - hiding behind my legs, breaking off from him and playing bitey-face with my hand, nibbling my clothes, barging me with her bum... all inclusive stuff. Our one-on-one playtime during our morning walks/training also seems to have more interaction and bounce to it. She loves flirting with her ball with me - showing off what she has, then bouncing away. Sweet girl :)
     
  11. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    It's good that you have kids to work on, I know you find them a bit thin on the ground at times. Glad to hear it's going well. :)
     
  12. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    Had another good kid experience with Shadow the other day. I was walking home with Shadow and saw a friend of mine walking down the street with his three-year old son. He said to the boy to give Shadow a stroke, so I immediately stepped between them and said Shadow wasn't good with kids (I don't see the kid often enough for them to know this, but often see my friend as he walks to work and W&S run up to him to say hi because they know him, so he just reasonably assumed that they're friendly dogs). Anyhow, the little boy is pretty switched on for a youngster, and not the flappy sort, so I said we could try to have him give Shadow a treat, as long as he was able to keep his hand out flat and straight. The dad helped him hold his hand properly, and Shadow took the treat happily. Twice. So, a great result for him. I thanked them profusely and came away with a big grin :)
     
  13. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    Today, I decided to start work on Willow's gun shyness. I downloaded a couple of rifle noises to my phone and have played them quietly a couple of times, before meals and good treats. She hasn't fluttered an eyelash.

    However, when we were out on our evening walk, there were a couple of small distant blasts from the avalanche systems, and these made her skittish - jumping up at me, which is her classic sign of stress, although she was still able to chase a pine cone and take a treat, so she wasn't completely over the top.

    So, still softly-softly. I'll try increasing the volume on my phone, but I have an inkling that the quality of the sound isn't sufficient to make it realistic. If that's the case and she doesn't pay it any attention, then I'll try on our Bose sound system, which is far better quality but obviously less portable!!
     
  14. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    I've not posted in here for a while, because I've not been able to do a whole lot of training (other than nails, and basic stuff on training walks) because of the weather and the fact I've lost my training area.
    Anyhow, I've been plodding on trying different things with Willow's gun shyness, with little progress. Noises played on a phone or any sound system just don't register. I've tried different gun noises at different volumes, but there has been no reaction.

    I found an eBay supplier who will post party poppers for a reasonable cost (unlike the £50 delivery for £5 worth of poppers I'd been finding previously!) and have ordered those, but when I was talking to a friend about this, she said she had some that she didn't need, so brought a box of 50 round. Yesterday, I tried one for the first time. Willow was playing like a loon in the fresh snow, so while she was having fun and at a distance, I let it off inside my mitten, to muffle it. Success on a plate - she looked at me (so, a reaction to the noise) and I threw a pine cone for her, which she chased quite happily.

    I think we have our first step. Now, to take it gently and make it a positive learning experience for her.
     
  15. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    Glad you've found something to use. I used balloons with Charlie, when I was training for fireworks, just ordinary party balloons popped at the end of the garden at first.
     
  16. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    I tried balloons before we went to the UK. She didn't react to them at all, even when we popped them right next to her. I now have about 90 balloons that I have no use for :D
     
  17. Emily

    Emily Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Time to throw a party? ☺☺
     
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  18. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    Not much to report - winter is still getting in the way of doing too much, sigh.

    The last couple of days, I've started work on a "give" cue, prompted by the forum. We have a pretty strong "leave it" and a so-so "drop it", but I hadn't approached the "give it" until now. I like the method presented in this video (https://game.absolute-dogs.com/fake-itlrt4rwbj) because they both have strong hand targets. To date, we've never had any real success with hand targeting with something in the mouth, though, as they always drop the object. In hindsight, I was trying from too far a distance. So, I've been playing this game, and very successfully, with a rubber ball. I tried a couple of other objects to start (plastic water dummy, canvas dummy, Kong tennis ball) but the plastic ball is the easiest for them to manage at this stage. After two sessions, Willow is good at delivering the ball to hand from several feet away. I'm drawing out the duration slowly, too, and she's definitely beginning to understand that she can keep it until I ask for it, and to chase the hand. She's really shoving it hard into my hand when I ask for it now, which is absolutely perfect. In fact, I let her keep the ball to play with it after our session and she kept coming up and trying to push it into my hand. Good girl! I need to put this on a verbal cue next.
    Shadow is doing well, too, but certainly isn't offering the behaviour outside of the training session. "It's a ball and it's MINE!". :)
     
  19. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    I started reading a book about clicker training agility since we're going away on an agility holiday in a few weeks (yay!). One of the first thing it encourages you to work on is being bilateral, so they get used to being on both sides of the handler. Makes sense, and it's something I've been wanting to do for a while, but this has made me pull my finger out.
    It's actually nice to go all the way back to the beginning of a behaviour and capturing/shaping it. The dogs seem to both be really enjoying the process, too. It's still very early days - I've not introduced a verbal cue yet - but they're picking it up well.

    Other than that, I've started hunting for sites for doing permanent blinds, as per Pippa's articles here: http://totallygundogs.com/gundog-training-concepts-what-is-a-permanent-blind

    I've identified one particular location so far which is a great position with the ability to create a long straight line to it. Our first session this evening, and I did three marked retrieves to it with each dog (in separate training sessions), building up to 50 long paces, which I'm assuming is around 50 yards, probably just a bit less (since I'm a half-pint). They can do marks farther than this, but 50 yards is the distance suggested in the article, so I'm taking it nice and slowly. Willow ran in on her first, but other than that, they retrieved with gusto, and Shadow's delivery to hand was fantastic. Willow's is still a little loose.

    I realised I'd never done any walking with them holding the dummy, so I did a little bit of this, following Pippa's video: http://totallygundogs.com/the-walking-hold-a-gundog-delivery-exercise/

    I've been working quite a lot on building their arousal for a tuggy pheasant toy so I can use this for rewards. The pending agility course has also focussed me on this, since the book encourages using a toy for keeping energy levels up where necessary between exercises - somewhat the antithesis of gundog training, where we need them to settle between exercises, but I think we can do both successfully, using the toy as the cue for continued play and a foot on lead for a cue to settle. Their enthusiasm for the toy has gone from strength to strength and Shadow even chose a game of tug over a pine cone. High praise indeed!
     
  20. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    Very exciting that you have an agility course coming up! Charge up the go-pro!
     

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