Saturday, January 25, 2014

Obedience Classes

I have been taking online obedience classes through the Fenzi Dog Sport Academy for a year now.  I audited a couple classes and also have had working spots with Rundle in Puppy Foundation and Obedience Skillbuilding classes.  I just signed up for another working spot in the "Precision Heeling" class.  Denise Fenzi's dogs have amazing heeling so I am excited to get feedback from her as I start Rundle in his heeling foundation work.  The timing for this class is perfect as Rundle has a decent attention span now when it comes to working and he has the focus and coordination now to begin learning the complex skills that go into creating a beautiful, accurate competition heel.  This will probably be my last working level spot for a while as my budget will not allow me to keep taking classes at the gold level.  I will still take auditing classes though, as there is lots to learn from watching others and reading all the great lecture material and the price level of those is reasonable.

I have also been taking a real life obedience class with Rundle.  It is a Drive, Attention and Motivation (DAM) class taught by my friend Amanda.  It is an awesome class!  Probably the best obedience type class that I have ever taken.  What is so great about it is that it is not just an hour of obedience skills and drills - that can be boring for handlers and dogs alike.  Rather, it is a class geared towards creating dogs who think obedience is a fun game.  We play with our dogs as well as work on attention.  We play fun recall games and teach our dogs silly tricks.  We also work on foundation obedience skills.  This class fits in perfectly with what I have been doing in my online class work and gives Rundle a chance to practice what he has been learning in a much more distracting environment than our livingroom or back yard.  He gets very excited when other dogs are moving and playing, so this class is great for him to learn he still has to focus on me no matter what the dog next to him is doing.  So, lots of fun and work for both of us.

Now, continuing with my 52 Weeks project, here are the photos from the last couple weeks:

3/52  Being Still

4/52  Seize The Day

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

52 Weeks For Dogs

I mentioned in an earlier post that I am doing a Flickr photo project with Rundle.  It is called "52 Weeks For Dogs", and as the title suggests, you post one picture a week for the entire year.  This is my 4th year doing this project and although sometimes it is hard to stay motivated, at the end of the year it is worth it to look back at the finished project.  Because of this project, I have got shots of my dogs that otherwise I never would have.

I really want to spend this year capturing the Rundle's personality as he matures.

Week 1
Rundle loves jumping and bouncing and I captured this shot of him jumping in snow.  He was chasing snowballs that I was throwing.
1/52 Leaping Into The New Year

Week 2
Rundle will stare at a ball (or any toy) and then suddenly jump on it.  This is his pre-jump, getting ready to pounce look.
2/52 Stare Down

Monday, January 13, 2014

Some January Training

I put together this quick video of some of the obedience exercises Rundle has been working on.  I am trying to work on accuracy and quick responses as well as trying to maintain and encourage enthusiasm.  I didn't post any of the "enthusiasm" parts of the sessions but it mostly involves some quick play using the games Rundle finds the most fun.

We still have so much to work on but so far I am happy with how Rundle is progressing.  He has his own style of doing things and so far doesn't think obedience is routine or boring.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Dog In A Box

A few days ago I shared this video with a friend who is training a new puppy. It is a silly exercise  where you see how small of a box you can get your dog to stand in. It is based purely on shaping - no luring, no helping - just letting the dog figure out what it is you want. The only thing you need to play this game is a dog that understands the concept of shaping.  Although it is a bit silly, this is, like any clicker shaping game is a great, no pressure way of teaching your dog to think and figure out problems. I say "no pressure" because it is just a trick so if you mess it up it's no big deal.  Exercises like this are great to teach your puppy to deal with frustration and to think through problems. This particular exercise also has a bonus of teaching body awareness.

The premise of this exercise is to get your dog to stand in progressively smaller and smaller boxes. Since Rundle had never been asked to stand in a box before, the first box was the most difficult for him. You can see him trying to figure out what I wanted and he offered all sorts of behaviors to try to find the "correct" behavior that would earn him a click. Of course I didn't expect him to catch on right away, so I first rewarded for interacting with the box, then touching it with his paw, then for one paw in, etc., until all his feet were in the box. The smallest box was also difficult - not because he didn't know what to do, but because he needed to figure out how to fit all four feet in such a tiny place.  Of course this wasn't done all in one session, or even all in one day.  Short sessions are the best for this type of "thinking" style of training.