Dog-est August – Training Log – August 31, 2018


Day 4

A nosework session so bad, that I can’t even bring myself to post it here. We did nosework yesterday in an ‘interiors’ type context, and both dogs rocked it! So it seems they understand the scent part. Containers are our nemesis. I know this, so I tried to make it easier by putting food in the container. The result? A container retrieving, box destroying extravaganza! 3/3 containers broken, and no indication that either dog knows the goal of the exercise. Gah! I definitely need to work with some non-retrievable, non-smashable containers that are no fun to put in their mouths and chew on, bricks with holes in them would work! I am also seriously considering teaching HD with canning lids to start everything clean from the beginning. NW is by far our weakest TEAM exercise.

To end on a good note (for the human, this handler needs a high ROR), we tried some Find Heel without a platform. Baby dog had never tried this, and he did really well! Better than could even be hoped for considering we have only done ~5 sessions of find heel with a platform and ~3 of pivots. Lots to clean up, but I am happy that this is our starting point. I love the enthusiasm from both of them! (Even if it means getting repeatedly shoulder checked by Perrin )

I often get flustered when mistakes happen. I am happy with my problem solving here. I helped Sei where he needed it, preserved his enthusiasm, and got where we wanted to go!


Just Go Train

I listened to a really interesting Facebook Live yesterday put on by Denise Fenzi. It was about what to do when you get stuck in planning rather than actually training. It was exactly what I needed to hear right now! Training used to be fun, before I learned more. Perrin and I made incredible progress in the first year and a half, when I knew less and we just went out and had fun. I wasn’t videoing every exercise looking for all of my mistakes. I just trouble shot issues as they came up rather than spending hours agonizing over making clean training plans.

Part of what I have learned this month on working through TEAM with Perrin is how fast we can make progress if I just go out and work on things (rather than sitting inside stewing about the best way to do so). I have no problem troubleshooting behaviours, and know where to go to find solutions if I get stuck. I only get hung up in the training plans because that is the ‘right’ way to do it. Admittedly, doing things ‘right’ matters much more for Sei than Perrin. If I mess up and frustrate Perrin, some handler screw up cookies makes it all better. Not so for Sei. But still, I get a lot farther learning from my mistakes with Sei, than I do from doing nothing at all.

Overall message:

Just get out and train! You will get much farther trying something than sitting and thinking about training the ideal way.

Other things I was pretty vindicated to hear coming from an experienced trainer I enjoy following:

  • TEAM1 is boring
  • Go train and have fun even if it isn’t perfect or what you ‘should’ be working on, especially when doing behaviour work because it is boring, frustrating and like watching paint dry because progress comes so slowly.

Dog-est August – Training Log – August 22, 2018

No formal training today for anyone! It is rainy and gross out, and we all just spent some time splashing in puddles and cuddling when they dried out. My boys did a little bit of free shaping before dinner, and the bonus dogs both sampled a few strips of steak through a muzzle, but that is pretty much it.

I decided to take Hannah Branigan’s Set it and Forget it webinar/virtual seminar, and I think I will spend most of my blog writing energy brainstorming some ideas for applications of those concepts in my training sessions.

Set It and Forget it – Ideas

This morning I watched a webinar/online seminar thing put on by Hannah Branigan called Set It and Forget It. It focused on strategies and skills for setting up clean training sessions. This is an area that I definitely need work in, especially for Sei! The more clarity I can provide for Sei, the happier he is! Being right is important for him, where as Perrin doesn’t really care as long as he gets a cookie (ie, screw up cookies do not make up for confusion with Sei, they do for Perrin. Sei finds confusion much more aversive and cookies much less reinforcing than Perrin does).

Three of the components that Hannah focuses on for clean training sessions: stations, transportation, and reinforcement/resetting (among others).

Ideas of Things I Can Use for Stations for Sei: 

  • Chairs (my current go to, and meets the criteria of, if present, Sei will get on it without a cue)
  • Mat (needs work)
  • Crate (needs a lot of work, has some baggage)
  • X-pen (again, baggage/a history of frustration)
  • Other situational/never before used things: stairs, car hatch, couch, any sort of available platform

The transportation component, a formalized lure/hand touch type thing, will need some practice on our part. I should try working on that. I wonder what other kinds of things I could use in place of a food lure where appropriate?

  • a series of platforms/foot targets?
  • tugging? (YES! Answered in the webinar)
  • hand touches? (If a duration + motion nose touch is trained prior)

Ideas for Reinforcement Loops:

(Some focus on brainstorming for the TEAM exercises we are working on)

  • Back and Forth
    • Jump training (also see similar exercise in Jumping Gymnastics course)
    • Jump grids done in both directions
    • Platform work (getting on and off either side)
    • Tunnels (curved with me in centre)
    • 180 degree wraps (bowl on either side of me. Also a mix with out and back?)
  • Out and Back
    • Platform work (reinforcement behind, thrown or with T&T)
    • 180 degree wraps (bowl on either side of me. Also a mix with back and forth?)
    • Vertical Target Training (where the dog comes back)
    • Resets from pivot work?
  • Loops
    • Jump grids done in one direction (I have done something similar using tugging as my transporter)
    • Weave training
    • Vertical Target Training (where the dog does something once ‘out’)
    • Jump for TEAM1 (jump with handler motion)
    • Circling the handler without precise heel position already


Dog-est August – Training Log – August 21, 2018


More pivots and platforms! These are looking really nice. Next up, trying to put the first three or four exercises together with the proper mechanics.

Perrin’s title approval came back telling us that we passed level 1 of his 4-on Specialist! That makes his alphabet soup: Perrin ETD GPS-B PKD-N PKD1-FF. Now to find 15 more objects that fit the categories to jump onto for level 2!


More pivots and platforms for Sei too! He is doing really really well with these. Some cleaning up to do with those back feet on the pivot, but I am blown away with his understanding of the exercise after only 2 days. Those pivots into heel position are especially nice. Just got to decide about the sit vs stand debate for heel, I like the sits for the fronts.


We gave the first 5 exercises a try! I used way more reinforcement than is allowed (and kept it in my hand due to a lack of pockets), but I was just wanting to get a feel for how the flow felt with Sei, and how he felt about switching from exercise to exercise. It went really really well! I pushed ahead to try the position change exercise, even though he was already in a sit (down to sit is a hard transition for him, and we have not practiced it much). He did alright! Needed a hand signal to support the verbal, so some work to do there, but the understanding exists, which is lovely! He nailed the backing up too.

Chance and Dex

No video for these boys today. I did my guys’ video in the morning, and by the afternoon a nasty storm had blown in and made the internet very unstable; not suitable for uploading video on a slow connection!

Dex did some practice on using nose touches to reposition him, and Chance did more muzzle work.



Dog-est August – Training Log – August 20, 2018


Today we worked on our pivot for TEAM. I didn’t have his regular platform, so I had to get creative. This is one of the TEAM exercises that we struggle with the most. Perrin is often delayed in his pivot: I move, then he moves a second later. So today I focused on going back and moving less, and rewarding for a smaller amount of motion. I had some hiccups in inconsistent criteria and pushing the limits a bit, but his pivots at the end of the session were much much better than the ones at the beginning!


I also decided to try some pivots with Sei. He has never any type of pivoting work before, and while he has done front foot targeting, he is scared of metallic noises. I figured that he was going to be quite uncertain about that pot, so I was just planning on shaping a step up onto the pot. In true Sei form, he decided to prove me wrong. He showed no concern at all about the pot, so I thought I would try a little pocket hand, but he found that offensive. When I just let him try for himself, he just started pivoting like a champ. I have no explanation for this, other than he must have learned from watching Perrin. (Also noted: Don’t pet him while working! He doesn’t like that!)

We also worked a little bit on finding front, and finding heel with Perrin’s platform. It is a little long for Sei, but not terrible width wise. We have been shaping the ‘get onto the platform’ behaviour for a few days, and today I decided to try adding in my body positioning. It went pretty well! (Another advantage to a tailed Aussie: you have a built-in ‘straight’ indicator, haha!).  I will have to decide whether I want stands or sits. Perrin definitely works better with stands (sits are a lot of work for him and sap his enthusiasm really quickly), but I think sits may work better for Sei. He does them naturally in fronts, but not in heels. I don’t want an auto sit for Rally Free, but you can give extra cues there to indicate a stand. I’m not sure if I have to use the same position for both front and heel (I know that you have to be consistant within the same exercise), I will have to double check the rules. I have some flexibility here, because TEAM allows for either to make it adaptable to different obedience organizations/types around the world, Perrin is not allowed to compete in obedience here, and I have no plans on doing so with Sei.

We also did some agility/disc training/playing for fun.


More muzzle work! We are still trouble shooting the looking up part. We had some limited success today pairing the chin rest from before with PB, which can be more precisely delivered. He really doesn’t want to tilt his head up though, and I think I am going to watch him in life for a while and see if it is something he does naturally or not.


Dex crashed the muzzle work party, so he got to try too. There was PB, so he was happy. CC the straps was easy when paired with ear scritches!

Dog-est August- Training Log – August 17, 2018

I have not been posting, but we have still been working on things! The video taking, management and editing was just too much. I just wanted to record an absolutely groundbreaking outing that Sei and I had.

Sei struggles greatly to feel comfortable in new places. I decided to try to see how he felt about an empty sports field complex near the farm. No people, no dogs, a road with some noise in the distance, and the sound (but no sight) of children playing in the distance. I hoped that this would be a perfect step up in difficulty from the backroads around the farm. We did about 15 minutes of wandering around and sniffing on a 6ft leash. Sei was in his standard ‘new place nose glued to ground’ mode. Took the odd cookie here and there, but not consistently. Did a bit of the ‘go out to the end of the leash, stare out into the distance and whine’ thing. He eventually started doing really well at keeping the leash loose as we wandered around (I don’t really care about being in the right position in these circumstances, I just don’t want to get dragged around). This was pretty consistant with Sei’s current comfort level in new places.

After 15ish minutes, we went  back to the car and grabbed my longline and some discs. I really didn’t figure he would play, but thought I would confirm it. He likes to prove me wrong if nothing else 😉 He wanted to play! A lot! I even dropped the long line (which definitely makes me nervous, even in fairly safe places like this). We only played for a minute or two because I wanted to make sure to end before he was done. I didn’t intend to take video, so this was taken with my phone stuffed in a tree. The quality reflects that.

Then, THEN, when I just sat down in the grass with the intention of letting him wander and sniff on the longline, he came over and demanded cheese. I figured that if he wanted it as badly as he was indicating, he could probably do a few low level tricks for it. I stood up to move away from the tree, and he starts heeling! Did I mention that we have never worked on heeling? We did a few more things, no planning, because I never expected this. Sei has NEVER wanted to work in a new place before. Not once. And this was high quality stuff! I couldn’t believe it.

These stills, as terrible as the picture quality may be, make my heart happy. Look how happy he is!

Dog-est August - August 17Dog-est August - OpsDog-est August - August 17 - Sei Heelingish2Dog-est August - August 17 - Sei Heelingish5