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

Dog-est August – Training Log – August 11, 2018


Some more parkour videos:

And Sei’s first time jumping off of the dock! Look at him go! He was so scared of it before.

It was also puppy torture day (aka grooming day). Sei doesn’t like being brushed at all, so we are still working at CC the brush. Today he even let me work on his tail a little bit for the first time! Some PB smeared on the tile got his nails done without any hassle on either side.


More parkour!

Perrin loved getting brushed out, and tolerated having his nails done.


Chance also participated in grooming day. He got a good brush out and we worked on his nails a bit. He will allow them to be done, but I am trying to make it a better experience, so we didn’t do too many.


Dex got brushed out only. We did do a tiny bit of CC at the sight of the clippers, but that was as far as we got with nails.

Dog-est August – Training Log – August 10, 2018

So much parkour!


We got a nice backup today! Another one in the files for submission.

Sei rocked this creativity exercise! (Is his wagging tail throwing off his balance? ❤ )

And the through!

A good, usable 4-on for something.


I could use this one for the metal, narrow, or slippery categories for Perrin’s 4-on specialty.

We did use this obstacle yesterday, but I didn’t like my hand motions, so we re-took it. This one is perfect. It could be used for metal,

Another useable 4 on for either the specialty or his intermediate.


More muzzle and nosework stuff! Nosework went fine. I need to get my act together before we work on it though, the process is not right at all! Chance got a sniff of wintergreen and ate some hot dogs though, so that is a step in the right direction!

The muzzle work has stalled out lately, so I tried something new. Because we have done so much work with having the cookies down, either on my legs or on the floor, Chance keeps smushing his face down looking for cookies with the muzzle on. I can’t lure his face up, and then he soon finds the muzzle uncomfortable because he is forcing his face into the floor. Today we tried a chin rest and just stuffed cookies into his face. Then did some ‘airplane cookies’ to try to keep his attention up. We will see if this gets us out of the rut we are in.


Dex is kind of the highlight of my day! We have kind of settled into a routine of playing everyday. Today we did personal play, with hand touches and lured spins. It is nice to just play with no worries about goals, training plans, or video.

Dog-est August – Training Log – August 9, 2018


Turns out that Sei is a tunnel fanatic first thing in the morning before it has gotten hot out! So we did that first thing.

Sei went to his first farmers market! Well not really, we went to the parking lot and soccer field next to the farmers market. So there was an empty parking lot, and a soccer field between my car and the market. The field and the second parking lot was empty and we had as much space as we needed. The location in the photo is the closest we ventured. Highlights included eating PB and hot dog bits reliably, doing a few nose touches and slow cookies after some acclimation, 300ft of llw back to the car, a little bit of play with a stick that we found, and some name game. Only two short lived grumbles over a toddler running around and screaming in the distance, and a guy staring at him from 100ft away.


We also started taking some video for Sei’s parkour. We have to wait until November/December to submit the videos, so we have lots of time. Here is a solid ‘around’.


We did lots of parkour! I would like to get his intermediate title, but I am not so sure about the 45 degree tic-tac. We could definitely get his 4 on specialty though! So, we did some of that and we also did his back up onto an object for an intermediate title. I don’t know if I will use any of these particular 4-ons, because there was a new rule brought in where you can’t reuse a particular obstacle with different dogs, so I have to choose very carefully between Perrin and Sei. Especially with the fact that Perrin can easily do public obstacles, where as Sei cannot. I need to prioritize the farm obstacles for Sei.


More muzzle work!


Dex and I just played again. Threw some spins in and generally made sure he had a good time.

Dog-est August – Training Log – August 8, 2018

Today was a day off for everyone, except Sei! We did some incredibly disorganized tunnel and wrap work while out on walks. The wraps are not going well, and it is largely because of my toy mechanics. It was much better with the ball than the disc, I suspect because the prep to throw a ball is way less than for a disc, so Sei has fewer body cues to go off of. I also tend to move too fast trying to add distance or additional wraps. Got to get that figured out. The tunnel stuff went really well! I worked on setting Sei in a sit and walking away a few steps, then sending to the tunnel. Because they were there, we did a few unplanned no-bar jump/tunnel sequences as well, which Sei did beautifully at.

Dog-est August – Training Log – August 7, 2018

No video for today. I needed a break! Taking, editing, and uploading the video for 4 dogs on rural internet takes hours, and I would rather be training or playing with the dogs. We didn’t do much training time-wise. It was super hot out, so all the dogs spent way more time playing with me in the pond.


Nosework and more tunnels! I started curving the tunnel for the first time, and the very early testings of whether Sei is catching the verbal ‘tunnel’ yet. I did that by setting him up in positions other than ‘middle’, facing away from the tunnel, or off at different distances. The nosework went well, he is making slow, steady improvement despite my ad-hock approach to training it. I will be honest, I really don’t like doing nosework. So I can’t get too hung up in the clean training of it or it gets so not-fun that I will never do it. If we just bumble around, it is more fun for me and the dogs don’t seem to mind as long as they are paid appropriately and I don’t let them get frustrated.


I tested Perrin’s new platform for fronts and heel position, and did some more nosework in preparation for the scent discrimination exercise. Perrin will need some remedial work on getting his back feet onto the platform. He has no problem with his front feet, but the platform is just a touch narrower than his natural rear foot stance, so he has to think about it. He also wants to be quite far away from me on the fronts, so we will have to work on that too. His scent work is also coming along slowly but surely.


A tiny bit of nosework and some disc. He is a dog who uses his sniffer a lot, and so I figured he wouldn’t have too much trouble picking up on nosework, and that is definitely the case!


Dex and I just played today. A little tug, a little ball. His happiness is contagious.

Dog-est August – Training Log – August 6, 2018

Today there was nosework for everyone! I picked up some wintergreen and some new containers. I also built Perrin a platform for our TEAM stuff, but haven’t tried it yet.


Sei is pretty much were we we left off with this. Often choosing the right one, but not consistently. Both him and Perrin do super well sniffing a single container out in a room, but less well picking the right container from many.


I have had several surprises on behaviours I thought were broken, but they weren’t. I was sure Perrin was solid on this but he wasn’t!I tried this once before the session I took video of, and Perrin looked at me like I was bat shit crazy. It seems that he has lost everything on this exercise, so we are starting from the beginning.


Chance did some nosework and some muzzle work. He did pretty well at both!


Working with the beginning steps of nosework with Dex and Chance is interesting. The initial step using this approach is for the dog to choose the scent in one hand rather than the cookies in the other. Neither of them have done any sort of IYC/Zen work, where they have learned to understand that moving away from the cookies is the gateway to the cookies. Chance did pretty well with this exercise regardless, but Dex struggled a lot. He was really obsessed with the cookies. The other approach to nosework is to start the dog searching immediately with food, then pairing scent with the food, then moving to just the scent. This is the approach I think I would take with Dex if I were really interested in doing nosework with him.