Dog Training Telepathy

This is how my window looked this morning. Good grief! Not another problem!

Oh, well, what’s a little condensation (yeah, that’s dripping water, not ice). And I’m not going to even mention the broken door knob on the door out to the backyard.

On to a more pleasant topic.

Java and I started a Dog Obedience II class last week. Never mind that we haven’t had Dog Obedience I, although we did do a community ed. puppy class. I figured that Java has the basics and what she really needs is some tweeking and some work with listening when there are distractions — like other dogs.

I was expecting the usual — big room, dogs and people lined up, we do a lot of heeling around the room, etc. Instead, there were about 6 dog and people sets gathered in a small room and we pretty much never moved from our appointed piece of floor.

Instead, we started out by just working on timing. Without looking for any particular behavior from our dog, we simply used our clicker and gave our dog a treat. The important thing was to not have our hand in the bag with the treats, which is distracting, but simply have our hands by our sides or clasped in front of us, to click, then reach for our treat and give it to our dog.

Once the instructor, Linda, saw that our timing was pretty good (she said even professionals do not get the timing right 100% of the time), she had us wait for our dogs to look us in the face, then click, then treat. And once we had that timing down, she had us back up holding the leash, and while the dog followed our motion, we were to click and treat. It was important to click while the dog was actively moving with us and not move, stop, click, then treat. Otherwise the dog would think stopping was what he was being rewarded for.

We spent the entire lesson on timing and understanding the principles of dog behavior and training. It was really quite interesting. I’ve always had a hard time using a clicker in other dog classes I’ve taken and had given up on using one. But the way Linda explained it, broke it down, and had us practice it a piece at a time, really helped.

Our assignment in between classes is to choose a behavior, such as the dog lying down, click when the dog exhibits the chosen behavior and give the dog a treat. We were told to select whatever trick we wanted but only work on one behavior per day. The hardest part is that we are not to tell the dog what we want her to do but simply wait for the behavior, click, and reward. The reason for doing this is to get our dogs to focus on us, to problem solve what it is they can do to earn a reward, and to learn that the click means they got it right and will get a treat.

This idea of not using a command was confusing at first and is hard to stick to when I see Java looking to me to give her some kind of hint.

Is this it?

Yeh! I got it! If that worked, this should get me two treats!

No? Well, maybe that was a bit much. How about a bit more subtle?

Yes, I do see how it makes Java focus on me and gets her to problem solve. Once she does whatever I was waiting for, she quickly (or sort of quickly) understands and repeats the behavior over and over.

This technique is also a good way to teach a trick, such as bowing, yawning, or even sneezing. Every time your dog exhibits one of these natural behaviors, such as the dog stretching with it’s paws out and head down, you can click and reward and turn it into a trick. You can use a command like “Who’s the queen?” and have your dog bow down in front of you. I’m going to start working on that one first chance I get.

After a hard day of dog training, I went out and found a pair of winter riding boots. Aren’t they sexy?

They are awfully stiff and I discovered they make annoying squeeky noises while I ride, but they work.

I am a bit perplexed about why boot manufacturers make these things to fit the calves of a 12-year-old boy. Hello!!! They are “winter” boots, ya know — long underwear, fleece-lined breeches, and a pair of wool socks have to fit into them! A video of how I pushed on the flesh of my calves to compress them into the boots would probably win a prize on funniest home videos but I couldn’t stand the humiliation…

Since I bought the boots a size bigger than my normal shoes, I think I can fit foot warmers into the toe.

I also bought these riding mittens as my fingers get so cold in gloves. Talk to the hand, man…

I tried the mittens out (along with the boots) on Tuesday and they worked pretty well. I think there is even room for hand warmers. (Luke worked pretty well too. We are becoming quite the team).

So bring it on winter! I’m set! Well, except I don’t have my Under Armour yet. I can’t believe that a pair of thermo underwear can cost $50 to $70! But I did try on the Base 3 and boy, are they comfortable! I decided to see if I could find them cheaper on line. It appears not.


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  1. Hey check the Under Armour outlet at Albertville. They have some amazing sales at times. It’s worth a check:-) Love those photos of Java trying to find the right reward pose! She is so adorable. Nice winter gear, I’m impressed. Maery bringing sexy to the stables ~ oh ya! Have a good Thanksgiving Maery, really do:-) Love ya, Kathleen

  2. Sorry to read about your window and door knob. Enough! I’ve had winter riding boots before, but they were lighter and kind of quilted looking on the top…quite comfortable. I never had cold feet. Yours look pretty fancy…so do your gloves.

    What you are doing with Java is very interesting. You sure are a busy woman! HOpe you have a happy Thanksgiving tomorrow.

  3. Happy Thanksgiving! Your Dog Obedience class sounds like a real different approach..Chance is not food or treat driven unless it is the really good treats like those bacon things..I suppose I could cut them up small..interesting concept thanks for sharing:)

  4. Kathleen – Yeah, I noticed there was an outlet there. I’ve just been trying to research the coldgear as much as I can to see what’s most suited for the things I do. Heck, I need something to wear inside my house! I hope your Thanksgiving is utterly yummy!

    Lori I had winter boots similar to yours but they got saggy and wore out. They don’t seem to make soft, quilty ones anymore. Funny that the busiest woman I know would call me busy. Hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

    Far Side – I think I’ll learn a lot in this class as the instructor has done a lot with studying dog behavior. I find the discussions about brains highly interesting. Go figure. On today’s walk, I didn’t keep yelling “Heel!” the whole walk, but clicked and rewarded Java every time she made eye contact with me, which in essence brings her to a heel position. It’s not just making Java think, it’s making me think about what behavior I want and the best way to get it.

  5. Yep, your ridin’ boots are about as sexy as my manure stompin’ barn boots!!!

    You post cracked me up this morn’! What a delight to read your lightness girl.

    God bless and have a fantastic Thanksgiving Day! :o)

  6. Hey Meary– good tip on the outlet huh? I’m going to have to check myself! That training stuff is so interesting. Java seems really smart. 🙂 Maybe you should try agility!

  7. That is a great series of shots showing Java offering behaviors. Those mittens look great! I will have to try and find some. Have fun with the clicker training!

  8. Sue – I wanted to go to the outlet on black Friday but I don’t do shopping on that day. Too frightening. I’d like to try agility eventually but we have some “focus” issues to work on first.

    Jill – The mittens are much warmer than my riding gloves and will be even better when I get some hand warmers to put in them.

  9. That sounds like my kind of dog training class. I love clicker training… I’m so glad that you’re having fun with it!

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