Monday, 27 May 2013

Old Mill Dog agility homework - Left and right circles

I wont lie - I am totally rubbish at knowing my left from my right so I have never actually taught my dogs 'left' and 'right' on an agility course
But I have found this a useful trick for many reasons. Firstly it teaches you and your dog about luring and phasing out the lure (I teach this trick to a new dog just after I have started teaching them 'sit') It is good for warming up muscles and getting focus. It can be great fun for the dog so great for cheering them up when they are a bit down or unmotivated and it gets dogs comfy with turning away from you and  you crossing behind them as a starter to flicks and rear crosses

I usually start with the dog infront of me and a treat in my right hand. I lure the dogs nose clockwise and reward for the nose moving, then reward for 1 step to the right, 2 steps, 4 steps and then a little jackpot for them getting all the way around. (sometimes bigger/less flexable dogs need a bit more space so I lure and take a step back.
Once they have done a couple of full circles with a lure in my hand I then remove the treat from my hand and lure with an empty hand and reward from my other hand
Slowly over time move the lure hand higher and higher and make your circles smaller until you are just pointing in the direction you want them to go.
Add the cue word ('right') when you know they will take the full circle and say it as they are circling, I dont try saying the word before the action until they can do it with just the finger point then I would say 'right' wait a sec then point - if the dog does it before the hand signal then they get a jackpot

Remember and work on the other side (left) as well

Monday, 6 May 2013

What positive training is not

I haven't done a ranty post about training methods for a while - so here is one
All too often I am hearing people who train using punishment tools saying they have to for certain behaviours because (real examples) 'How safe would it be for me to be trying to bribe with cookies when my dog is playing in the traffic' or 'wagging chicken in-front of his face when he is attacking another dog is not going to work'

The problem with the thinking of punishment based trainers is they have to see the behaviour and then punish it
So they think positive training would be the same - see the 'bad' behaviour and then bribe the dog with food or toys in the hope they would learn to not do those things

And of course the problem is in some cases that is what they might see positive trainers doing - except at that point they are not training
For example imagine the case of positive and punishment trainers walking along a path with an untrained dog. One day there is an unexpected hole in the fence that the dog sees before the trainer and darts into the road

Of course as the dog is untrained he has no recal

A punishment trainers course of action may be to yell for the dog to come back, which of course will not work, then have to run into the traffic to try and grab the dog - and possibly even punish the dog when they reach them - which by that point the dog does not realise they are being punished for going tru the gap in the fence.
Later that trainer may walk to path beside the fence and punish the dog any time they start to move towards the hole
Or train a recall by punishing the dog while they are away from them and stopping the punishment when they choose to come back

A positive trainer may try to get the dogs attention with some food or a toy so they can grab the dog and get them to safety - THEN knowing about a problem they will work on training the dog a behaviour they do want
So most likely a whiplash recall in lots of different locations
and a nice heel command so the dog can walk nicely with them past a danger
AND clip the dog on the lead while they pass this point on the walk so the dog is kept safe and does not get to practise the unwanted behaviour.

So if you look at the above both for positive and punishment trainers the first point of the dog running into the road is not actually training - it is the trainers seeing that there is a training problem/opportunity
'bribing' with something nice is just a way to hopefully deal with the immediate danger and get the dog to safety.
Actually giving a cookie to the dog for running into the traffic would not work as training - if you did it often enough then your dog may learn to run into traffic to get a cookie.

Positive training is NOT letting a dog do the wrong thing then bribing them with food
Get the dog safe (manage the situation at hand) THEN realise you have a gap in your training and work on fixing it

Friday, 3 May 2013

Old Mill dogs Agility homework week 5 - circle an object

The text didnt come out too well on the video here!!

This week you want to teach your dog to circle and object. If they are on your right they will be circling anti-clockwise, on your left they will circle clockwise
This trick has several uses
It can help with tight turns in agility
It helps a dog feel confident moving out away from you
It helps us learn about luring (although of course you can shape this too)

Start somewhere with low distractions and pick an object that your dog can easily see and get round
Lure your dog round the object and reward with something high value
Each time reduce the amount your hands move to lure the dog and you can ask for more than one turn (you can see my dogs 'stick' after one turn because I dont often ask for more than one turn)
Once your dogs really know what you want you can begin to move away from the object and send them further and further out each time.

Once they are happy and confident that your dog knows this trick you can take it to lots of different locations. I send my dogs around trees, football posts, lamp posts - anything


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