Archive for indication

Tug Toy Pull

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

I really want that toy.  Why wont she just give me that thing?  Hey hey HEY hey HEY HEY HEY HEY!!! hey  HEY!  is that a squirrel?  HEY! HEY! HEY!

I am digging my paws in for this one.  Darn!  I almost got it that time.

HEY! HEY!  HEY!  boing boing  HEY!

Snap snap snap,  SNAP!



“Why are you touching my feet?  TUG

“Really, what is with the feet?”


wiggle wiggle.

YAAAAY!  I won.  Mine!

What’s a good bark indication look like?

Posted in dog training, life with a working dog, pets, Search and Rescue with tags , , , , , , , , on May 11, 2010 by rattlerjen

Some of you have been asking what a good indication looks like

after reading my blog from a few days ago.

Here is an example of what Grom should be doing with his “bark indication.”   Notice how this Shepherd puppy runs like a bullet back from the subject (lost person) and barks her head off?  

Well, that is what we are going for.  It is much different from what our little dog is doing.  (Mostly wandering around sniffing the flowers.)  The good news; we took the advice from the team (see blog post) and applied it to his training.  It seems to be working!

I ran backwards making lots of noise after calling the dog’s name.  Halfway to me, I gave his bark command, while still acting like a goofball.  Grom ran right to me like the speedster that he is.  With only a one second pause, he began barking his head off!  Now that is a good dog.

On another note…

Grom tried to eat or destroy today:

  • power supply to laptop
  • green slime experiment for class today
  • box of washers
  • husband’s sock while still on his foot
  • the comforter
  • my computer
  • a paper towel tube
  • applied paw to my eye and left a large lovely scratch  (possible black eye)

For those of you living with a working dog; your moment of Zen.

Wait, no really, what’s the game again?

Posted in dog training, life with a working dog, pets, Search and Rescue with tags , , , , , , , , on May 9, 2010 by rattlerjen

2 ticks removed at end of training.  One tiny dog tick on my foot and one dear tick on my leg.

Note: Wear more bug repellant.

Looks like we have our work cut out for us on G-man

In the following video, our dog decided to show us all the problems he is having with training.  He completely messed up with everything but play.  I am really happy.  Shouldn’t I be disappointed?  Heck no!  This is the best thing I could possibly ask for.  The worst thing that could happen is to show up on training day and no one has suggestions on how you can improve. You want the dog to show the problems he is having, not hide them.

So, what did the little monster do this time?

We learned the traumatic trip to the vet to get his heartworm test did much more harm than earlier known.  Looks like the vet tech putting him in a full nelson to get his blood drawn has caused the little guy to be terrified of anyone putting their arms around him.  You can see him completely freaking out when the girl tried to hold him.

Then, instead of running right towards me to give me a few good barks.  He decides to visit my husband first, then forget what it was he was doing when he finally got to me.  The group believes that the dog thinks my husband is involved in the indication game and is confused with both of us there.  That makes perfect sense since the other person is nearly always around when training occurs.  No wonder he is confused.  His third problem is wandering around instead of running to me and barking.  Check out this epic fail:

Ok, no big deal, time to give the dog a second chance.  This time the subject, aka person playing the lost person, holds the dog by his collar.  I call the dog right away and give him his bark command.  He feels much more comfortable being held just by the collar this time.  The dog still decides to visit my husband before me.  I do call it a win.  The dog did finally bark, a definite improvement, and was rewarded for it.  We ended on a high note, so back in the car.  Yay!


  • dog not focused on task
  • dog visits other handler before completing task
  • dog uncomfortable with being held
  • dog has the attention span of a flea


  • Give the dog a cue that it is work time.  A special harness or collar can be put on him every time he does search related training.  We decided both his search vest and harness would be good.
  • Allow only one of us be present when he is doing search work until he is really focused on the task
  • Help the dog during training.  You may have noticed that I stood there waiting for the dog to figure out what I wanted him to do.  Remember that a new place or context is enough for the dog to forget what he is supposed to do.  Training is not a test.  My plan will be to call the dog to me and act very excited and interesting.  As he is running toward me, I will ask for his bark command.  I will run backward and act silly to keep him focused on me.  I will give him the bark command again once he gets to me if he forgets to do it.
  • For his problem with being held, I will just need to have lots of people hold him while he gets treats

As for the attention span of a flea:

He is 11 months old, his brain is doing the tween thing.  He will grow out of it.  We hope.

Practice dog indication Triple try

Posted in dog training, life with a working dog, Search and Rescue with tags , , , , , , , on April 23, 2010 by rattlerjen

So, we are learning how to mess up our training with a “practice dog.”  That would be our 10 year old German Shepherd retired from Customs.  Looks like we have a slight problem with her remembering what to do when she gets to me.  She is supposed to bark.  She gets to me, then spaces out.  So, I help her out with her bark command, “Preach!”

She knows that one, but after she runs away from the person holding her, she looks at the person she just left and barks.  She is supposed to look at me!  It’s all about me, man!

Ideas on this one?  I did this three times hoping that she would “get it” on the third try.  Check out what happens.

You can see me try and get her attention to me by making all sorts of silly noises.

So the second one was a bit better.  Not good enough.  I would like to go back a few steps, but when I do that she barks properly at me.  The problem is at this step in the behavior chain.

Yup, I completely messed up this one!  Let her get away with barking at the wrong person.  No wonder she doesn’t do it right!

When I wait for her to get bored and bark at me instead, she decides to go smell flowers instead of play.  I have put her back in her crate and try again later.  She plays dumb (because I am doing something wrong here) and repeats barking at the wrong person.

I give her a lot of breaks because she is old. I would like ideas on how to fix this with her so that I do not make the same mistake with our real dog in training.  I know I am messing something up.  It’s the trainer’s fault.

Sure wish I knew how to speak dog 😀

Bark bark bark!

Posted in dog training, Search and Rescue with tags , , , , on April 15, 2010 by rattlerjen

Sounds like Grom going to training camp for a week really paid off.  He is barking for everything and doing so loudly.  On top of that, he even did a back chaining indication with me walking away and ignoring him. The little bugger was persistent too!

Back chaining indication means he runs to a person, runs to me and barks until I give him a command.  Then he runs back to the original person.  It’s practicing what he does when he finds a person.

In other news, I joined a gym within walking distance to the house.  I am flabby.  I cannot stand it anymore.

Leaping Labs!

Posted in dog training, Search and Rescue with tags , , , , , , , on April 1, 2010 by rattlerjen

I just had to post this great video of Haley, an SAR dog in training doing a short find.  Her jump indication is out of this world.  I am thinking of buying her a trampoline for her birthday.

I can’t wait to see this dog operational.  That is, certified to find lost people.  I always thought labs were not fast movers, but Haley could run with the best of them.  Lost humans will not be out in the woods long with THIS dog on the job!  Go Haley, go!

Bubble bath

Posted in dog training, life with a working dog, Search and Rescue with tags , , , , , on March 11, 2010 by rattlerjen

Ah, the wonderful time of year when the flowers bloom.  The front of my house is gorgeous with little purple croakus flowers poking up through the grass and all around my front stoop.  Lilly of the valley climb my hill and the bird feeders are filled to the top with seed.  Grom , the weirdest dog on the planet, snacks on sunflower seeds and tears a brand new hole in a 50 pound bag.  I dread I am going to discover later that sunflower seeds are poisonous to dogs or something and try in vain to call him off of the yummy seeds.  He spends the rest of the hour outside whizzing around the yard randomly picking up sticks, rocks, logs, leaves, and things out of the recycling treats

I really have no idea where he finds the energy.  This morning he was fed out of his Buster Cube.  He kicks this sucker around the kitchen for 45 minutes while it doles out a few measly kernels of dog kibble at a time.  Perfect for getting him tired. He is ready to go in his crate for a nap after battling with this thing.

He must have had one great nap because when it was time to train, he was ready!  It has been a while since we had done it, so it was time to do a bit of indication for play.  Aaron held on to the dog while I said “Preach!”  (This is the dog’s command to bark at me)  Grom ran at me full boar and barked two good barks with one squeaky toy bark in between.  As soon as I had the word “Save” out of my mouth, the dog was already playing with my husband.  Something tells me he may have this game.  There was zero hesitation and I had no need to get his attention at all other than the command.  Was this a fluke?  Does he really know this or was it luck? Only one way to find out.

barking dog

I'm good at this barking thing.

Aaron stole the dog tug back from the puppy.  (One heck of a feat if you know Grom)  He even kept his fingers attached! We restarted and I walked behind the azalea bush.  “Preach!”  Grom came dashing around the bush, looked right in my face and started barking his little head off.  I got five good, fast, loud barks before I said, “Save!”  A black boomerang dashed off and flung himself in the air to catch the tug Aaron held out.  The impact spun Aaron around while the dog’s back end flung around in the air.  Now THAT was a good one to end on.  Perfect!  I did my best not to give the dog any visual hints for what I wanted him to do.  So hears to hoping it really was perfect. 😀

My head feels like it is packed with cement and my voice is a bit scratchy.  A bit of steam to clear my head was in order.  That, my friends, means there was a bath in my future.  I closed the d0gs in the bathroom with me and gave them a few chew toys to keep them out of Aaron’s hair while he was on the phone.  I finally layed back to relax in my shallow bath when puppy nosed the shower door open.  With one smooth jump, the dog was in the bath with me biting the water and smacking it around with his paws.  Bath time over for me.  I told my german shepherd to jump in with the puppy and walked away.

A proper end of the day. Two-thirds wet dog, a pile of soaked towels, a trashed bathroom, two happy and tired wet pups.

Not a barking clue

Posted in dog training, Search and Rescue with tags , , , , , , on February 23, 2010 by rattlerjen

I believe the second step in back chaining an indication must be the most difficult.  We are asking a dog to run away from the person with all of the toys and the fun and go bark at a person that only barks commands back.  Perhaps we are not practicing enough and the dog just isn’t making the connection?

Poor Grom only wanders away from the fun person holding him and sniffs at the ground for a while before deciding to bark.  Once he does, he sprints back to the toy holding chump for play.  I am constantly going back a step.  (He barks on command and gets rewarded from one person.) He does this perfectly.

Possible solutions?

  • Run backwards and act really fun when asking for the bark command
  • stand right next to the person with the toys when asking for the bark
  • reward only for one bark or even a whine then increase criteria
  • immediately put the dog up if he starts to sniff around instead of running to handler, try again later
  • Do a search on the net for other possible answers
  • ask the rest of my team for ideas

I have found one good article on training from a group in Houston.  From what I can read so far, it appears that the dog is barking at the found person as opposed to running back to the handler and barking.  It does offer excellent advice on training with context and distractions in mind.

In other news.  Always remember, when a dog is singing “Prelude to Puking.”  Putting him in the shower is a fine idea.  When he vomits up parts of one of his toys, that toy needs to find its way to the trash ASAP.  Do this before you forget or you will be dancing to the hurling song on a regular basis!

It might be frozen, but it’s not a toy!

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

Dogs love to play with new things.

When you are a high drive working dog, everything is on the list.  Take for example, something frozen and shaped to fit perfectly in the mouth.  It is really fun to bat around with your paws like a cat.  Best of all it smells disgusting.  That’s right folks, the perfect toy of the day is a nice big frozen dog turd!

Even in two feet of snow, poo patrol has got to go on.  Get your trash bags and scoopers out lest your dog find a new “toy” in your yard.

In further news, we had a bit of a backslide.  Either the dog has reached a plateau or he never really knew what we wanted in the first place.  Indication work bombed tonight.  First go at it, he ran up to me and didn’t bark.  Just looked at me and started sniffing around. It may have been perhaps due to the fact I was not directly facing him when I asked for the bark. I ignored him to give him a chance to figure out why we were just standing there.  No go. I took him back to Aaron and tried again from 15 feet away facing him.

I asked for his bark again.  He ran to me, stopped, and looked around.  I waited and he finally gave me a few good barks.  The pup went back to Aaron at a full run and flew threw the air to get the tug.  Yay!

dog in snow digging

Not that!

I don’t believe a pause is necessarily a bad thing.

It can mean that the dog has noticed something has changed and is confused or distracted by it.  When training, you must always take in account the three D’s.  Distance, duration, and distraction. You must practice a behavior while changing only one of the three D’s at a time until he does his behavior reliably with that one change.  Then change a different D and so on.  You will then have a dog that will do a behavior in any situation for any length of time.

It could also possibly mean that the dog is bored or is trying to figure out what in the world we want from him.

The best thing to do is back up a step or two in the training process.  Go back to doing something that the dog could do reliably for a while.  For us, this means that Grom just barks for the toy.  When he does this reliably a few training sessions, we can work our way back up to the step the dog was having trouble with.

Always think, strong foundation.  After a plateau or “setback” a dog with often rapidly improve 🙂

Snowy Back Chaining Indication

Posted in dog training, Search and Rescue with tags , , , , , , , on February 12, 2010 by rattlerjen

Worked on back-chaining indication.  An indication is something the dog does to tell the handler he has found a missing person (subject.)  We are attempting to train Grom with a bark indication.  We have practiced asking him to bark on command in all sorts of situations.  Now it is time to put a few more pieces together.

Here’s how it goes:

  1. Subject holds dog
  2. Handler calls the bark command “Preach” – Dog is supposed to run to the handler and bark
  3. Handler asks for the show me where the subject is command. “Save.”
  4. Subject gets dogs attention with toys and noises – dog runs towards the subject
  5. Handler follows dog back to subject who plays with the dog.

Here is a video of us practicing this with our German Shepherd.  She is a bit old and a slow poke these days, but you get the idea:)

Grom did well, but on the second try (which was near perfect) he ran away with the toy playing keep away.  Can’t have this!  He is supposed to win the toy and then be put back in his crate.  Really hard to do that when he is running away from you, Doh!  My husband and I played with the second identical toy trying to lure the puppy back.  I started to sprint around the yard with the toy and I grabbed him when he was hot on my heels.  Whew!

I played tug with him while holding on to his collar with my other hand.  I am such a dummyhead to forget his leash!

I am going to look into playing the game two hoses aka two balls or two tugs with him.  I am not sure if this would conflict with his drive play and agitation, but I have an idea it will help solve his keep away problem.  Will look into that.

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