Monday, August 22, 2011

Back To School

Astrid just signed up for a Rally Obedience class. She doesn't know it yet. We are going to take her out of 'school' every Tuesday beginning in the middle of September and attend the Rally O class on Monday nights at a local dog training club. She will go back to Doggie Day Camp when the classes end in November. Change is good. Learning old things with a new teacher is good. If Astrid were human, she'd probably have her MBA by now with all the classes and 'homework' she has done. This picture is from 2006. We had adopted her just two months prior. Maybe Astrid is an overachiever. Or maybe it's Astrid's mom who is the overachiever...Astrid just goes along for the fun of it all. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Keeping Them Home


We love Ian Dunbar's dog training philosophy. It differs from the clicker training that we love so much, but the premise of positive reinforcement is still there. While teaching loose leash walking, he does advocate a sharp voice that let's the dog know that a particular behavior isn't acceptable, but the second the desirable behavior returns, so does the praise and softer, even human voice. Combining training methods never confused Astrid...I feel it only reinforced what I was teaching. Take the word sit. Look at your dog and say sit. Chances are, he/she will. Sit in a chair and say sit. What happened? Body language wasn't there, hand signals weren't there...all the little nuances might be gone. Using lots of different methods, combining methods, alternating between spoken commands and hand signals and sometimes using just body language  not only has expanded Astrid's abilities but the fun of training, too. Did I say we loved Ian Dunbar? Bet we aren't the only ones. There's lots and lots of free videos demonstrating his method of training at Dog Star Daily.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Easy Peasy

Often times I think that if I would make the time, Astrid would stay engaged in learning new things most of the hours of every day. I tend to get caught up in trying to encourage more difficult and complicated behaviors and tricks. When I see the fun and satisfaction she gets from a simple game of 'touch', it reminds me to sometimes scale things back and let her enjoy the gratification she gets from the easier games in life. One of her favorites is 'which hand is the treat in'. She's right 50% of the time...and even when she is wrong, she is right with her second guess.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Helpful Facilitation

"Helpful facilitation is much more powerful and helpful than domination" (from Simple Taoism...A guide to living in balance). When trying to teach Astrid new things, I would often talk loud and slow. Did I really think the louder I said 'sit' the better she would understand it? How many times when out and about do you see someone with their dog  keep repeating the same command over and over, getting louder and louder while the dog stands there with that bewildered look in their eyes? That's why I love clicker training and shaping behavior so much. It's easier on me...I don't get exhausted trying to exert my will over hers...and with this gentle facilitation, once she's 'got it', she's got it for life. 
video