Today’s theme is: Lots of video, very little commentary. Go.
We also went for a walk, found Sei’s last geocache for his beginner title, some muzzle work, started on thrus for rally free, stationing work, and cuddled. Today was a bad day mentally, lots of wishing we could do things we can’t. So I tried to have some fun training lots of things we can. Didn’t work so well today.
Today was a busy day in dogland! Sei worked on tugging for our toy class, name game fun for our loose leash walking class, and his fitness routine for our case study. Perrin did his fitness routine for our case study, and came for a run with me. The entirety of our fitness videos are here, only so I have them stored in another place other than my hard drive in case of a catastrophe. The llw name game video is from yesterday, but we did the same thing 3x today.
Today was a busy day to be a dog! Sei and Perrin both played a little disc, worked on some standing still and did their baseline fitness routines for their case studies.
Sei and Perrin’s disc practices were routine, so not worth posting their videos. I did have a highlight clip of Sei’s hoop jump though, it is coming along nicely!
Perrin’s case study baseline video is very boring, including 3.5 minutes of just standing still. Not recommended watching, I am just putting it here for my own reference later, and incase I lose a hard drive again.
Perrin’s condition has markedly declined since his last assessment in the fall. This is not terribly surprising, given that he and I have had a rather lazy winter. While he could hold his stands on the disk for a long duration (3.5 minutes), his top line is weaker than it was in the fall. Perrin found standing on the peanut much more difficult than he did in the fall, managing 35 seconds in the baseline assessment, but with poor form. He will need more core work before he is ready to continue with work on the peanut. Perrin was able to hold a stand with his rear feet on a disk and his front feet on a 50cm peanut for a duration of 1.8 minutes with good form, and performed 23 sit to stands on two disks with good form before tiring.
Sei’s baseline stands were quite interesting. The length of time that he could hold a stand were very similar between the ground, the two disks and the peanut (12, 16, and 15 seconds respectively). All had reasonable good form. In the video, it can be seen that he clearly finds the unstable surfaces more difficult physically than the ground (especially the peanut, his top line is slightly roached on it compared to on the disks or the ground), but the length of time that he can hold the stand is not significantly different between the three of them. This information furthers my though that the standing still issue is more training than ability based. We have only started working on stands in the past week, and he has gone from about 2 seconds of duration, to the lengths seen today. It will be interesting to see how he progresses from here.
Another long road trip weekend! Friday and Saturday, Sei spent at the farm running around, as well as playing disc and ball. Perrin stayed at home with Jake and worked on nosework.
On Sunday, Sei and I went to disc practice, and worked on the same things as last week. Most of the practice was just the humans practicing their throws without dogs.
Today, was an eclectic training day. Sei and Perrin both did some platform work and fitness stuff. Sei did some more LLW foundations and disc. We were working on our toss and fetch in preparation for potentially joining a league in April. We made some really great progress! Sei has been getting me all trained up: between me getting my timing better, practicing the kinds of throws Sei has the easiest time catching, and shortening how far I am throwing, Sei’s catch percentage went WAY up today. Sei makes it really clear when I get things right for him, he tries so hard even when I screw up and sticks with me until we get it right.
Today we did our prescribed exercises for the day and did the necessary recording, as well as take baseline photos.
Sei played in the laneway today! Sei’s play is awesome in the back yard (the floors in the house are really too slippery to be safe for much play), but I have known for a while that I really need to get out of that space and start building those skills in new environments.
From past experience in new environments, and having watched how Sei’s toy/play drive developed in a familiar environment as he aged, I knew that when entering a new environment the following would likely happen:
I would have personal play/chase me play first. This seems to be the last type of play Sei loses the ability to do in new and or distracting environments.
I would have chasing a toy. The next easiest type of play for Sei. He will chase a floppy tug toy, and lightly grab it, but with no strong hold or tug. A ball or a frisbee rolled on the ground would be chased and pounced on, but not picked up or carried around.
In really comfortable environments, Sei will intensely go after a tug/ball/frisbee following me and his toy around with strong focus, often jumping up, barking at me.
Each of those categories have ranges as well, from having to be convinced that the type of play in question would be a fun thing to do, to laser focused on that play and playing intensely.
For on-leash trips out, I had only taken a tug before, mainly for user-friendliness reasons. Right now, tug ranks above balls, but below frisbees. When out in the suburbs, he will chase them and bite at them, but he hasn’t done any good tugging yet (class settings is a different story). Today I took a disc out to the laneway to see how that went.
At first, Sei was more interested in sniffing than me, but I got him chasing me around fairly quickly. Then I got him chasing the disc in my hand, then doing tiny catches so he had to move to catch it. And he really got into it! He did some spins and sits for catches, and by the time I had to run to get my bus, he was super in the game! We were only out there for 3 minutes! Whoohoo!
School has gotten busy and we had house guests over the weekend, so my recording of our dog activities has been anything but consistant.
Perrin has been continuing to work on his fitness activities, and some fun things like working on ‘find my keys’. He is so happy doing service dog type tasks. I’m not sure why exactly, but asking him to go retrieve my mittens or my keys is done with much more joy and enthusiasm than he has if we try to play fetch with a ball for fun. I wonder if it is me. When he does something for me that helps me out, I am genuinely appreciative on top of letting him know “hey, that thing you did was super cool!”.Maybe he feels that and it works as a reinforcer? We also started hidden keys for the first time and he rocked it! Way better than what I had prepared him for (which, to be honest, was nothing). Who knows. We are still waiting to get his novice parkour results back, but after seeing a video on the facebook page that was failed because of a lure, I realized that I did something similar in several of my clips. Basically having a treat in your hand counts as a lure depending on where you are standing, regardless of if you are using your hand motion or just standing there. Good to know! Maybe we will work on it again later when I have access to environmental features again.
Sei has really reached a brain growth spurt or something. Ever since he came home, he has been super clear about when he is ready to work on things. I can push and break things down tiny and work on a skill for weeks, and get very little accomplished, or I can wait until he reaches the right developmental stage and he picks it up in moments. His most recent ‘readiness’ has been verbals. I had been working on adding a verbal to a spin that was on a hand signal for weeks, and never made any progress. Downs I was working on adding a verbal to by capturing with similar results. On Friday, he suddenly put it all together and now CONSISTENTLY has spins AND downs on a verbal cue! I was shocked! Perrin learns verbals much differently, and it takes quite a lot of work with him to get anywhere near the level of consistency that Sei had within 10 minutes of doing the behaviour on a verbal cue for the first time. Its really interesting to compare their different learning styles and strengths. He also suddenly understood shaping this morning in a way that he did not before. We have also been working on sit stays, tugging and a tiny bit of loose leash walking. I really need to get him a collar to start teaching pressure yielding.
I think that Sei is going to be a lesson in ‘waiting until the dog is ready’. I feel like we are behind other dogs his age, but trying to push training was sucking the fun out of it for me and frustrating him, so I had quit working on specific things and started just playing and working on life/house skills. I struggled with feeling guilty/behind/like a bad trainer over not teaching him all sorts of new skills in that time while other people and their puppies were doing all sorts of cool tricks and foundations for their sports. But now Sei is learning those things at warp speed and with joy instead of frustration. I just need to trust him to let me know when he is ready and we will get where we want to go 🙂 I keep reminding myself that Perrin didn’t know anything beyond pet things until he was almost 2 and he learned all sorts of amazing things in a year. It really takes the pressure off.
Today Perrin got to play with the new Toto Fit Infinity that we won! It arrived today and I promptly got it filled and figured out a way to stabilize it with the things I had. (Shhh, I will put the living room back to the way it was before my husband sees!)
He loves this stuff so much. Cute boy!
We also started working on nosework. This is completely new to Sei and the method is new for Perrin, however Perrin has been taught this before another way. I decided to try the exercise from the sample lecture of the FDSA NW101 course (which I am hoping to take in the October session if finances allow). The gist of this exercise is to have odour in one hand and food in the other, C/T when the dog shows interest in the odour, then feed at source. This sounds very simple, but I had several mechanical issues while trying to execute this.
Moving the odour hand and the food hand to the middle to reward, rather than bringing my food hand all the way over
Holding my odour hand too high for the dog to eat out of, then dropping it to the dog to feed
Letting Sei sit too long when he went to his default behaviour of ‘sit still and stare at me’ rather than resetting promptly
Dropping treats trying to feed at source while also holding a clicker. Different treats could help this too.
These mistakes and more can all be found in both dog’s videos, but are more obvious in Sei’s because Perrin understands the game, and is confident to keep pressing forwards so covers my mistakes. (Also he is bigger, so I had less issue holding the odour too high to feed him at).
Perrin clearly remembered what wintergreen is! I don’t think he made one mistake the whole time. He can step up to the next level next time we try.
This was Sei’s first try at anything like this. The first time I made all of the above mistakes, but the one that hindered us the most was me sitting still. I added some more motion the second time we tried, and he rocked it! We will keep going with this exercise for a few more days at least and see where we get with that.
There is a semi-local ORT test in early November, and I’m thinking I may enter Sei and see how he does. I am even more uncertain about Perrin, because I also want to submit his Novice Parkour videos and I really only have the budget to do one. We will see what I decide.
Beyond that we also continued working on spins with both dogs, toys with Sei, as well as him catching food out of the air. But that last one is mainly because it amuses me 😛
Things have been very busy lately, and I have been recording most of our work though our Fenzi homework. I figured I would make some notes for today before going off line again for a while (I am prepping to paint much of the house, thats going to be fun with two dogs!). I am also falling behind on the puppy genius homework with the two gold classes, and in life training. Gah. Got to catch up!
Fitness Trainer Homework:
Some of the videos are shared with Perrin’s heeling.
Sei’s Crucial Concepts Homework for the past few days:
I really, really hate luring. So that is what we are working on in this course right now. So far, we are struggling with tuck sits. I debated on whether or not to go down that rabbit hole, because tuck sits are a real challenge for Sei right now, and I don’t want to spend the entire rest of the course on them if we can’t get them worked out in the next few days (few things ever get worked out in a a matter of days). We will see how it goes. These are our progress so far, with my notes.
I struggle with luring quite a bit, and find it very frustrating. It seems to me like a strange thing to struggle with as much as I do because it should be intuitive. With my older dog, I shape pretty much everything and have so far followed this with Sei.
I find it difficult to make sure I am doing the right thing with the lure, observe what the dog is doing, adjust myself accordingly (which I often don’t know how to do, how my hand motion relates to the dog’s motion is not always obvious to me beyond the obvious ones like spins), see when criteria is met, AND get my markers and timing correct.
I took video of luring attempts of roll over, tuck sits and spins, all of which are completely new berhaviours for Sei. I made progress with the roll overs, and spins, but tuck sits were not as successful. The above video of tuck sits are a good example of the issues I tend to have when luring.
I had several problems here:
The biggest issue is that while I theoretically knew what to do with my hand, I did not know what I was doing in practice, nor how to modify it when what I was doing was not working and I was getting rock-back sits.
I wasn’t sure of the best way to handle the rock back sits. He tried something, and he is at the stage where I really want to reward the effort of trying, and for working with me. I defaulted to asking for a hand touch, rewarding that, then tossing a reset cookie. That went on for a couple reps and I felt like I was just patterning that sequence. Because I didn’t know how to fix the underlying issue, we called it quits so I could come up with a better action plan for later.
Because things are going poorly, I am frustrating/confusing my dog, and I don’t know how to fix the issues, I get flustered. Then my mechanics, marker words, and timing go out the window. Normally I wouldn’t continue to the point where I get flustered, but I usually start there with luring.
I just experimented with how the lure placement/path effects behaviour: Can he follow the lure instead of sitting and waiting for the cookie (a very reinforced behaviour)? What happens if I move my hand up/down/sideways when Sei is standing? Sitting? Down? Moving? That sort of thing. No markers, lots of cookies.
I definitely have an issues splitting and setting criteria with luring. I’m not sure why. I don’t have those problems when shaping. It is definitely going to take some practice for me to get the hang of the multi tasking for luring, and to find how it is easiest to see the dog’s motions when I am so up close. Especially with Sei being so much smaller than what I am used to working with.
Whoohoo! Unexpected tuck sits! I was intending to video footage for Baby Genius with the whipped cream, but I started getting repeated tuck sits. Bonus! No subtlety in the lure with that can, but it certainly made it easier to reward for a longer time in position.
I’ve been doing trials with different treats for the lure, and what I am using makes a big difference. I think it must be my mechanics that is doing it with each for it to be so consistent across different foods, but I’m not sure. Discrete bits of food (kibble, hot dogs, cheese) yielded poorer results than something lickable that I could smear on my hand, then open my fist to reward (PB, cream cheese, jam). This video highlights the difference.
After many attempts, here is where we eventually got to with the mixed treat method. PB for the lure, and kibble for the reset. My ‘get it’ marker needs to be cleaned up here for sure, I am moving my arm before I finish the marker. (Sorry about the background noise, my husband was wildly happy about whatever trick my older dog was doing with him upstairs, but this was by far the most suitable clip).
Perrin is starting to get settled into the city after the big move and then testing life as a farm dog. Our morning walks have consisted of going to the busy park across the street during rush hour and watching all the people, bikes, skateboards, kids, and dogs go by; just generally getting used to the noise and movement of the city again. In the afternoons we have been doing more serious ‘downtown’ walks that required thinking of Perrin. This has been lots of loose leash walking, heeling tightly, waiting to sniff until cued, not being able to pee on every blade of grass, sitting at crosswalks and lights, and being resilient to all the crazy city noises. He has done so well and blown me away with what he remembers from being a puppy in the city. Navigating the busy city seems to have taken all his brain capacity, as today was the first day since we have been here that he wanted to do some brain work.
Today we worked on sit-to-stands on a couch cushion for an unstable surface. After 3 months I am still waiting for the fitness equipment I want to come back into stock with the Canadian supplier, so until then we are improvising.
We then worked on a new shaping trick: unrolling a yoga mat. This was a completely new behaviour that I had never worked on shaping before. Perrin has never been taught to roll anything with his nose. The whole process is below, unedited, so it is full of my mistakes. Well, its mostly unedited, I pulled out the part where I ran out of treats and ran to the kitchen to get more.
Then we worked on putting ‘be sad’ (laying down with his face on the floor) on cue, then called it a day when Jake got home from work. It has only been three nights, but Perrin absolutely knows who is coming up the stairs after the buzzer to the apartment goes off.