Archive for dog obedience

Teaching Off or Leave It

Posted in dog training, howto, pets with tags , , on May 29, 2014 by rattlerjen

Your dog sees a chicken leg on the ground

He goes for it, you trip, and your dog is snacking on someone’s garbage. Yuck! Teaching the word “off” is a great command that can save your dog a trip to the vet. To start:

  1. Put a yummy treat in your hand and close your first. Put your fist right under your dog’s nose. The instant he stops trying to get the treat, say “Yes” or Click. Then give him the treat. (You might have to wait awhile just be patient.)Repeat several times.
  2. Repeat, but give the dog a treat from your other hand.  Be sure to click or say yes, before moving the reward towards your dog.
  3. After your dog stops trying to go for your hand. Say “off” before presenting your treat filled fist.  We add the word after practicing steps one and two a few times to prevent our dog from thinking “Off” means you try and get the treat first.
  4. Now, keep your treat fist in the same position and mark (say “yes” or click) several times for continuing to leave your fist alone.
  5. Try opening your fist, then say “off.” If your dog goes for it, quickly close your fist and try again.
  6. Move your hand around in different locations.
  7. Put the treat on the ground. Be ready to cover it with your hand if your dog tries to go for it.  Don’t let him get it!

Next Post we will learn how to teach the dog to leave things that are on the ground while we are walking!

We are busy at Lead With Fun Dog Training – Serving Northern Virginia

A little new puppy update for spring

Posted in dog training, pets with tags , , , , on April 1, 2013 by rattlerjen

We have been busy here

Our new puppy is growing up so fast.  She can do nose work like nobody’s business!  We have been to two dog obedience classes and have had a lot of fun.

Starting over with a brand new puppy is hard work!

I have forgotten all of the things that I must do to turn her into a good search dog.  Time to review some of my previous posts! – 10 Dynamite Tips for a New Search and Rescue Dog

Right now we are working on her recall.

I have fallen into the dog training trap nearly all of us have done at one time.  She has a fantastic recall at home. (She looks a lot like the roadrunner from the cartoons,) her feet all a blur when coming when called.  Alas, when we are out and about.  She can decide a blowing leaf, a blade of grass, or a pile of deer poo far more important than listening to me.  It seems like such a pain in the touche to grab the long line, treats, toys, and pile the dog in the car to drive to someplace new for every training session.  So, I convince myself I will do it tomorrow and simply train my dog in the living room.  BAD dog owner!  This is something that will come back and bite me in the touche.  It is like going to the gym or for a walk, no one wants to get up and do it, but once there you are glad you did. I timed my last training session outing and it only took 10 minutes all told!  That includes the drive to and from the park!

Lesson learned.

If you want a well behaved dog, you need to take little field trips.

Now shut up, put those shoes on, and get off that bum!


The recall is very important to Search and Rescue dogs because we work air scenting dogs off leash. Forget the idea of the bloodhound dragging the handler around the woods.  Those are how tracking/trailing dogs work.  My dog can choose to chase deer, roll in poo, play with another dog, splash around in the stream, or work. He can play keep away and chase me games if he wants. Grom, my operational search dog choses to work instead.  He will even come back to a call or whistle blow while in hot persuit of a herd of deer!  How did I get such a wonderful recall?  Practice.

Practice at home with no distractions.  Then practice in many other places without distractions. Then add distractions working closer to the distractions and then working around more difficult distractions.

Best I get started then.

Obedience and Agility Test

Posted in dog training, life with a working dog, pets, Rescue Training, Search and Rescue with tags , , , , , , , on June 21, 2011 by rattlerjen

Last Saturday Grom the search and rescue dog completed his Agility and Obedience Test at the Urban Disaster Dog Search and Rescue training facility in Maryland known as Search Assist.  This is where they train those awesome disaster dogs you see on TV.

This is the very first time he has been on a big boy teeter totter.  This thing was huge!

It appears it did not phase the boy much.  All of that climbing and trouble making around the house finally paid off!

One of the more difficult elements in the Obedience is the emergency down or platz. Grom must hit the deck when we tell him, a very useful command to learn, especially if he is about ready to cross a road with a car coming or some other danger.  I was strolling along waiting for the dog to wander far enough away from me.  Grom was quite impressed with all of the fun training rubble piles and buses he saw.


And Yes, he passed both tests.

Grom’s First Boat Ride

Posted in Dog diary, dog training, life with a working dog, pets, Search and Rescue with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2011 by rattlerjen

My little guy has never been on a boat before.

Lucky for him, one of the other awesome k9 search teams in Virginia happened to have a boat set up for the fur ball.  We geared up and headed for adventure.

“Where are we going and what is what that funny vest you are wearing?”

First, we ask the G-man to wait before hopping on.  He should only enter and leave the boat when given permission.  Safety first!

Did I mention that Grom doesn’t know how to swim…

“Hey, is that stuff wet?”

The view is best up front.

Arrrrrrrh!  I am the feared Furball Grom, prepare to be boarded.

Luau at Obedience School

Posted in Dog diary, dog training, life with a working dog, pets with tags , , , , , , on August 16, 2010 by rattlerjen

Dust off those grass skirts and put on those Hawaiian shirts; It’s Luau time!

Vicki was excited to get the dogs rollin on the skateboards.  Check out that awesome hot pink skirt!

Look!  I am getting treats for riding on the skateboard.  Soon I will be doing 360’s.

Coconut bowling sure looks like fun.  Can I try?

What do you mean I am over the line?

I think this poor lady must have had a spider in her pants.

I was taught to follow that yellow ball on the stick. What is she going to ask me to do next, jump through hoops?

Forget I said anything.

What To Do With Coq au Vin

Posted in dog training, life with a working dog, pets, Search and Rescue with tags , , , , , on May 17, 2010 by rattlerjen

A beautiful day out on the town was ahead of us.  We still had a few hours before we needed to leave.  So, I happily combined some onions, carrots spices,  a bottle of wine, and a wonderful looking free range organic chicken in a clay pot.  With thoughts of a juicy wine infused chicken dancing in my head, I set the oven and closed the door.

We had a long list of things to be done before we were out the door.  Once done, we packed into the car and sped off for a day on the town, perfect weather included.  It was a rare day for the time of year; 85 degrees with a slight breeze.  The air was heavy with the scent of flowers.  It was a perfect day for stress to melt away.

Nearly to the restaurant we decided on visiting that evening, I remembered the chicken.  The chicken that was surely blackening and thinking about bursting into flames at any minute.  A horrible bitter-acid taste burbled into my mouth from my guts while my heart attempted to beat its way out of my chest with a sledge hammer. How could I do such a stupid thing?  Certain my house was bursting into flames at that very moment, I snapped at my husband to drive faster.

Several minutes later we pulled into the driveway of my house to find it still standing and the chicken black.  Peeling away several strata of hard, charred layers I rescued whatever was left for dog food. It had turned into chicken jerky.

Funny, it makes the perfect dog training treat.

Have a few pieces yourself and you tend to interpret instructions in new and interesting ways.


Walking is Hard, but I Can Stay Here All Day

Posted in dog training, pets, Search and Rescue with tags , , , , , , on May 10, 2010 by rattlerjen

Grom stood in a very odd place in the classroom.  He was directly in the center of the room on top of some agility equipment.  Why this made him nearly perfect at his stays while dogs moved around him, I have no idea.

It was a very full class with lots of happy doggies.  Grom was quite comfortable looking over everything from on top his perch.  Perhaps he was calm because our faces were closer to him.  I sat down with him on the floor later in the class and he calmed down quickly. It’s an idea I am going to file away for later.  If your dog is getting frustrated or is losing focus, try sitting down on the floor next to them.

During the first 30 minutes of class, our little obedience scholar stayed as all the other dogs in the class moved around him.  Only did he get up when a few exuberant dogs tried to climb up the stairs to get up there with him.  I was amazed.  What a difference from last week when he had the attention of cheese.  We even had dogs walk on either side of him during a large portion of the class.  He did an awesome job himself on the game.  Grom had to heel next to me as I walked up to a bucket of toys.  He parked himself in a solid down stay while I transferred the toys to a shopping bag. The little nut even heeled nicely with me as we strolled around a cone and back to the now empty bucket.

Either 30 minutes was up and he reverted back to puppy brain, or all the other dogs moving around caused him trouble.  The rest of class was spent practicing heeling with your dog.  Grom wanted to visit the butt of every other dog in the room. He could care less if I had filet mignon in my pocket, other dogs were more important.   I spent the rest of class bent over making really stupid high pitched noises to get the puppy’s attention while shoving food under his nose.  By this time in the class I was ready to shove food UP his nose!  Walking was hard today.

The trainers were nice enough to help with Grom’s “hugging” problem.  Both trainer gave Grom a very light hug while shoving treats in his face.  Yay!  With more help like that, it will be no time before Grom will let anyone hug or restrain him.

Excellent News on the indication training:

I suspected that Grom was just tired and frustrated with obedience class after 30 minutes.  He had energy and the need to work out his frustrations, I guessed.  We were in a new place, so why not try working on his indication?

With my encouragement and silliness, Grom gave a near perfect indication bark behavior chain on the second try.  Yessss!

Tween Dog Hormones Scrambles Brain

Posted in Dog diary, dog training, life with a working dog, pets with tags , , , , , on May 5, 2010 by rattlerjen

So, last night I went to dog class.  Well, kinda.

You see, I really didn’t want to go.  Can’t remember why.  I thought I was gonna go for another run like this morning.  Oooo, that was so fun.  We went in the woods and I got all splashy, splashy.  That was awesome!

This time when she put on my leash, she wanted me to get in my crate; in the car.  No, way man.  She even had the nerve to lift me up and put me in there!  It was such a long ride in the car.  I took a nap.

At the school there was only one other dog around so I peed on all the great smelly spots in the grass.  Boy, I sure was a good boy when we were inside the building.  It was very relaxing.  Mom told me to lay down and stay.   It was boring in there, no problem!

Then we went outside.  There were so many dogs!

What?  Why is sniffing prohibited?  Stupid school.

I was Soooo hungry.  Mom had lots of treats. I got some of them by doing stuff.  Most of the time she just went Blah, blah, blah.  I wanna talk to the other dogs.  Come on!

Ooooooo, another black girl just like me.  She smells so nice.  What?  I am just sniffing over here.  You know, trying to say hi.  Geeze.

Ooo la la!  A red head with naturally wavy hair.  Hell-oh.  What!?  I am trying to introduce myself to the lady.

I really don’t get this dog school thing.  This is so dumb!  I don’t get to do anything I want.  A least I can roll in the grass.  Hey!  A really awesome bird just flew by.  What?  You saying something?  Whatever.

Why in the world are you shoving your food filled fist in my face?  Oh! that smells good.  I forgot I was so hungry.  You want me to stay?  As long as you keep feeding me treats lady.  What?  no treats during my stay duration?  Forget this.

Oh hey! We are running now.  YAY!

In the car already?  Is it over?  But what about all that doggie tail out there, Sigh.  I am taking a nap.

Target Training a Blue Star

Posted in dog training, Search and Rescue with tags , , , , , on April 21, 2010 by rattlerjen

After introducing Grom to the agility course this past weekend, I thought it would be a good idea to target train him.  Once trained to touch an object with his nose, he will follow it anywhere.

I took a bamboo stick out of the yard and attached a plastic blue star on it with a twist tie.  Doggie only gets a treat when he touches it with his nose.  To begin, simply touch the star to the dog’s nose, click, and treat.  Typically, only a few repetitions are needed before you can quickly advance to holding the stick a few inches away from his nose.

This video shows how quickly a dog moves from beginning to advanced steps. 

Grom is allowed to be distracted and make mistakes.  I do give him the command “off” if he decides to surf the floor for crumbs rather than work.  He gets right back to work.  Note, this command does not work with all dogs.  Grom has learned that “off” simply means to ignore what you are getting into and start having more fun with me. My other dog Heidi believes she is in “trouble” when she receives the off command and stops trying all together.

Target training should be a fun experience.  I always keep my training sessions nice and short to avoid “puppy brain.”

I cannot wait to see the little guy tackle obstacles by simply following the little blue star.  Think of all the silly dog tricks to come!

Shaping Behaviors

Posted in dog training, Search and Rescue with tags , , , , , , , on April 17, 2010 by rattlerjen
smarty pants

smarty pants for a dog

There are a lot of things to know for a search and rescue dog.  Agility, obedience, playing, using your nose, endurance, and indication are just a few.  I am in the midst of really working on my dog’s indication.  This is the thing that a search dog does when he finds a person and is possibly the most important thing to train.   The last thing you need is for your dog to find the person and just stand there and stare at them.  Grom is being taught to run back to me and bark his head off after finding someone.  Often he stares at me and give me a lame series of weak barks before looking for his reward.  He could be bored, confused, or trying to be a smarty pants.  In any case, it’s never the dog’s fault.

I went searching for a bit of help.  Why not go to the source, Karen Pryor.  She has a fantastic article on the 10 rules of shaping.  A few rules I never had even thought about.  Most notably for me:

“During shaping, put the current level of response on a variable ratio schedule of reinforcement before adding or raising the criteria.”

I never have thought of this one.  This means he does not get a reward every time he correctly does the behavior.  For some reason I figured I needed to wait until he had the whole kit and kaboodle learned before starting on a variable treat schedule.  This just might do the trick if my pup is bored.

Another rule of note is:

“When introducing a new criterion, or aspect of the behavioral skill, temporarily relax the old ones.”

Every time I make the task a bit harder by increasing the distance between me and the subject (lost person) or ask for more barks, I have to let already learned behaviors slide a bit.  If the dog has been trained to bark five times when running back from a subject at 10 feet away from me, he can get rewarded for barking only three times if the distance is increased to 15 feet.  If he is confused or he is trying to over think the problem (smarty pants) this may help him understand that its the same deal even though the scenery may have changed.

The rules for shaping helped me think about a few things I may be doing incorrectly during training.  Check them out for yourself.

The Ten Laws of Shaping | Karen Pryor Clickertraining

%d bloggers like this: