Week Four Ranch Dog Manners

We have covered a lot in class already. Last week we worked on default behaviors at the gate and also asked the dogs to look back and acknowledge us once we went through the gate. Like 10 comes a day for something and don’t stare at the food this is something that should become part of your daily routine.

  1. The 300 peck “heeling” method. Years ago I took a clinic and private lesson with famous positive training instructor from Canada named Sue Ailsby. She taught obedience and I really didn’t do obedience competitively but her method helped me with all kinds of things that I use to this day.

A Review of the 300 Peck Method

FEBRUARY 16, 2017

Last week we introduced the agility tunnel. This is a really cool exercise to build speed and distance to an obstacle–in this case, the tunnel. I like to set up the exercise with 3-4 hoops in front of the tunnel. I am going to list the steps that I would like everyone to use in training for distance to an obstacle. Remember that the TUNNEL is always the LAST obstacle.

  1. Start your dog very close to the tunnel  with your hand holding their collar and say ONE TIME: Go Tunnel. The dog should pull out of your hand to the tunnel. As soon as the dog BLASTS through the tunnel meet them about 15′ past the tunnel and reward.
  2. If the dog enthusiastically did the tunnel with no begging, luring or pleading then start the dog again about 5 feet from the tunnel. Repeat holding the collar and saying “Go Tunnel”.  If the dog BLASTS to the tunnel pulling from your hand you graduate and add a few more feet. If you have to beg, lure or plead then go back to close to the tunnel and start again.
  3. A perfect tunnel is one where the dog looks straight ahead and is running at their squirrel chasing speed.
  4. Start to take note of the distance where you dog will be 100% successful. This is your spot you go back to after every failure (not fast, looked around, lured, pleaded, begged). After you go back slowly add back the distance one go at a time until you reach a failure again. At that point of failure go back to the 100% successful mark.
  5. Repeat this exercise at home with your chairs, stools, or garbage cans. Push, push for distance and then go back to 100%.
  6. These two links can be looked at for more understanding: Part one of 300 peck methodPart two of 300 peck method

Here is a summary of a training session on going out and around a stool based on the article:

A typical home session might look like this:
Around Stool – 1 step away, mark and treat
Around Stool – 1, 2 steps away, mark and treat
Around Stool – 1, 2, 3 steps away, mark and treat
Around Stool – 1, 2, 3 , 4 steps away, mark and treat
Around Stool – 1, 2, 3 , 4, 5 steps away, FAIL
Around Stool – 1  step away, mark and treat
Around Stool – 1, 2 steps away, mark and treat
Around Stool – 1, 2, 3 steps away, mark and treat
Around Stool – 1, 2, 3 , 4 steps away, mark and treat
Around Stool – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 steps away, mark and treat
Around Stool – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 steps away, mark and treat
Around Stool – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 steps away FAIL
Around Stool – 1 step away, mark and treat
Around Stool – 1, 2 steps away, mark and treat

The dog will fail randomly and so the reward is not predictable which is the power of positive training.

Now take this same idea and apply it to walking on a loose lead, or staying while you walk away. The method is powerful because it makes the reward random.

Ranch Dog Manners Week 3

  1. Teaching a “Default behavior” A default behavior is some thing the dog automatically does when you see a strange dog, come to a gate, or wait for dinner. Typical default behaviors are sit, down or eye contact. I taught my first border collie a default sit so that she didn’t bolt when she saw large dogs. I also taught it to her to sit whenever I stopped when she was on a leash walk to prevent her from jumping on people. A lot of ranchers I have met teach their dogs to sit,  look up, and lean into them to them before working with stock. To teach a default behavior reward the behavior when ever the dog offers the behavior even when you haven’t asked for it. At class we will be working on waiting for a default behavior at a gate.
  2. Gate work: 1) ask your dog for a default behavior (sit/down) at the gate and ask it for the default behavior 1 time. Without hovering, guarding or using pressure start to open the gate. If the dog breaks close the gate and start again. Expect this to take time. You are giving the dog responsibility for it’s behavior. It took me 15 minutes to get out the front door with Rey today. I patiently rewarded her for the sit, the door opening, and one step out the door. I just started over each time she zipped out the door. It tried my patience but eventually I succeeded. Then there is the next step…..
  3. After you go through the gate release your dog and wait for it to look at you. Again be patient. You are trying to develop responsibility in the dog. Looking at you is the ticket to moving on. For example if you are on a farm you do not want to open the front door and have your dog dash off to the barn without your permission.
  4. Tapping massage and relaxation: Finn is a more fearful dog than I have had before, so I have had to review some techniques that have gotten me through tough spots with animals in the past.  My dog Nero developed a fear of thunder, shooting and fireworks after his cancer started. I used this technique on him and he would come come up to me to ask for help when something disturbed him. This is how I knew it worked. Click on  Tapping points on the dog and a new window with an image of a dog with some star points will open. Think to yourself “Even though you are afraid of XXX I still love and accept you”.  Tap the dog lightly as though you are handling a new born chick. Tap each spot starting under the nose about 6 times (jin-gle bells, jin-gle bells). It also helps to hum a little song that you like, mine is Chariots of Fire, while you are working on your dog. During a stressful period when you cannot directly tap or massage your dog you can trigger a calm response by humming your song.
  5. “Give me a break game” Load yourself with ten treats and quickly work on 4 in a box and 2 on a plate games. Cluck and reward for behaviors very quickly and then sit down and allow your dog to sniff  or explore for up to one minute and then start again. If they come to you and ask to start again quickly play the 4/2 game again. This could also be done with heeling or a stay in place mat.

Ranch Dog Manners Week 2

This week we are going to work on pressure and release both in class and at home. The video below is mostly Rey. I cut Finn off because it was too much and he was eating snow from stress. At class last night we did this same exercise in alley’s, the stall, and a square pen. I use “get back” to send my dogs away. Then walk up to come in quietly, and stand to stop them. My body pressure should be strong, square and firm to send them away, and soft and relaxed to draw them in. As soon as the dog responds the pressure needs to be released. That is the reward for the dog. If you are using a crook, or noodle then the crook should be held vertical and tight to your body when the dog is correct.

Pressure and release is a very tricky concept in some ways and difficult to get right on the line where the dog is responsive and happy, but not shut down. This next video is of some of the Masters in Sheep Herding penning at some of our top events. You will see a triangle of pressure and release between human, dog and sheep. The third person is Derek Fisher and you can hear him using the traditional “keep” which is derived from “keep out”. His dog is coming in too tight on it’s flanks and when he says “keep” you can see the distance increase between the dog and it’s sheep. Watch for slight leans towards the sheep or dog by the handler, and slight leans away. Notice all the dog’s tail positions: Soft and down.

Week 4 Homework

    Experiment with different favorite games: Now that we are getting into more and more technical training it is time to confirm that you have some fun in the equation. For most herding dogs their favorite thing to do is to herd. In my dogs case they typically prefer to herd sheep, but will accept ducks as a happy substitute. Even shepherds with access to sheep all the time cannot herd all day so it is nice to know what a dog’s favorite game is in the absence of livestock. Rey loves to chase and pounce toys and then bring them back for a game of tug. In agility she will race the course and then fly back into me for game of tug. Right now Finn is in a chewing phase  and he likes to gnash and gnaw on things. Because his teeth are still baby teeth tugging hurts. Right now I would say Finn’s favorite game is chasing soft treats across the floor.
    Back up onto a different surface. Gradually make it higher and higher. “Mark” when their back feet hit the new surface.

 

    Take your largest box and ask the dog to walk up and over it. “Mark” when their front feet hit the ground and reward in that position. This is the foundation behavior to teach a stopped “contact” in agility or two on/two off.
    Here is another video with Tight/Wrap and and 2on/2off.

Finally for the last thing to work on is “stay” using the 300 peck method. Positive training yields great rewards if we make the reward as random as possible. The 300 peck method does this without much fuss as you push your dog until it fails and then you return back to your 100% spot. This can be done from any position. I like to use the dog’s default position to start. Finn’s default is sit. A typical session might look like this:
sit – 1, click and treat
sit – 1,2, click and treat
sit – 1,2,3, click and treat
sit – 1,2,3,4, click and treat
sit – 1,2,3,4,5 – fail
sit – 1, click and treat
sit – 1,2, click and treat
sit – 1,2,3, click and treat
sit – 1,2,3,4, click and treat
sit – 1,2,3,4,5, click and treat
sit – 1,2,3,4,5,6, click and treat
sit – 1,2,3,4 – fail
sit – 1, click and treat
sit – 1,2, click and treat
etc…

Ranch Dog Manners Week#3 Dec. 2017

As always look back and review homework from the previous two weeks. Those assignments are the foundation behaviors for almost all dog sports.

  1. Once your dog is happily going around something and can do it multiple times then add a second obstacle and go around both items as a figure 8. For agility we build this up so that the obstacles are up to forty feet apart and really let the dog rip.
  2. Two feet on plate is one of the foundation behaviors to teach a dog to “high five” or to sit up and beg. To teach the dog to “beg” start to very slowly raise the plate while asking the dog to maintain a sit. The begging position is often used in canine therapy.
  3. Back up–I like to teach the dog to back up using a narrow aisle that the dog cannot turn around in. At home I just slide my couch out from the wall block one end and toss a toy or treat down it so that the dog has to back to get out. I start using the word “back” as they back out again and then repeat it a few times.
  4. Two feet on a plate–rotate the hind end. This trick teaches the dog that their back feet are important. With the front two feet on the “plate” reward the dog for any shift of their hind feet. Try to give the dog their reward so that they take yet another step. Herding breeds tend to get stuck staring at the person or food so remember to reward when they look in a new direction. Eventually this behavior can teach the dog a beautiful “heel position” that is used in competitive obedience.
  5. It is the end of December and New Year’s Eve is near. If anyone has a dog that reacts to fireworks then here is a technique that works quite well. It is also good for any other fears a dog might have. My dog Nero developed a fear of thunder, shooting and fireworks after his cancer started. I used this technique on him and he would come up to me to ask for help when something disturbed him. This is how I knew it worked. Click on  Tapping points on the dog and a new window with an image of a dog with some star points will open. Think to yourself “Even though you are afraid of XXX I still love and accept you”.  Tap the dog lightly as though you are handling a new born chick. Tap each spot starting under the nose about 6 times (jin-gle bells, jin-gle bells).

Weave Training Class Lesson 1

With most dogs we can teach them to go up and over the dogwalk, through the tunnel, over a jump, or around a barrel in one session. With weave poles we often leave out steps in training so that they seem harder than they need to be.

We are going to be working on “channel weaves” with the goal to be able to weave 6 straight up poles with no guides in 6 weeks. This method is the easiest to replicate at home in the back yard because their are no complicated gates, or wires. However, if this system is not working for your dog then we will find something that does. There are lots of methods out there!

Here are some example videos to get you started:

The following video was made by local trainer, Nancy Tanner, about 8 years ago. I like how she says, “itty bitty steps”.

Finally if I still have you here is my Potato Weave explanation:

Here is a video of Prim in a local park proofing our backyard performance:

Have fun practice 3-5 minutes a day!

Nancy