Archive for teaching bark

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.

Bigger crate and more time in it.

Posted in dog training, life with a working dog, Search and Rescue with tags , , , , , , on February 24, 2010 by rattlerjen

Our puppy is getting big.  The little monster must have doubled in size since December.  I made the trek out to our shed in the remaining 8 inches of melting snow to fetch a larger crate.  Squish, squish, splash, crunch, crunch, slide, squish, crunch.  My old worn out hiking boots braved the black ice, mud, puddles, and melted then refrozen snow blanketing the trail to the wood sided structure.  I managed to successfully get the large disassembled crate awkwardly through the swinging door of the shed. Then I stopped to chose a good path through the back yard.

I was soon to learn a lesson in the importance of good equipment.  I balanced the two oversized clamshell halves in front of my body with my short arms. All the time Grom is leaping back and forth in front of me. While crossing the slush covered wood ramp back the house, my feet slid forward and I feel right on my bum, Hard! Grom made a delighted squeaking noise and bounded into the dropped crate to joyfully maul my face.  As I felt the mud and freezing water seep through the fabric of my pants, the puppy hooks his lower canine in my left nostril and successfully worms his tongue up my other nostril.  Disgusting snorting noises accompanied his slobbering.  I frantically tried to regain my footing, but continued to slide around on the wet wood like a giraffe on an ice rink.  Once at the bottom of the cursed wooden ramp, I was able to rid myself of the slobbering toothy devil and navigate my way back to the house.  A few moments later I had the crate assembled and a quarter cup of dog food thrown in.  A black streak of puppy fur flew into the crate and I closed the door.

Training a working dog often requires a bit of experimenting.  Every dog is different. Since Grom has gotten a bit dense about indication work, I decided to take a bit of advice from yesterday to heart.  I was suspecting the dog was getting way to much free time running around the house and occasionally playing with my older dog.  Now he thinks we are nuts when we ask him to actually do something to earn play.  Hey man you gottta get it into your thick puppy skull that working dogs don’t get things for free.

We tried indication work just like yesterday.  Success!  The little flash came running towards me on the command.  YES!

Back to closely managing his free – play time.  We have to make sure that he is not having too much fun outside of his safe little bed.  Only time will tell.

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!

Training bark around distractions

Posted in dog training, Search and Rescue with tags , , , , on February 11, 2010 by rattlerjen

And some good barking in the house!

I have been a bit more mobile today.  I even spent the entire day in the living room.  That is a good thing.  It gave me a chance to train Grom to bark a bit in the house.

Heidi barking in snow

Heidi will bark no matter how much snow there is!

Sure, your dog may bark on command, but will he bark when you are laying down, walking, sitting up, staring at the ceiling?  How about when a squirrel runs across his path, or a cat, or even another dog?  Many people are surprised that dogs just don’t know how to generalize. When you are training a dog something new, he must learn the command in all contexts.  When we will be out in the woods looking for a lost person, I wont be standing still staring at the dog.  I will be walking, staring at maps, scraping my boot, messing with my pack, testing the wind, looking in trees, eating a snack, and various other things.  You can be sure the wild and wonderful outdoors is not going to be as boring as your living room or backyard.  There are all kinds of things out there to tempt a dog.

Train in all sorts of situations, places, weather, and distractions.  Start easy and go slow.  Try and change only one thing at a time.  Don’t expect your dog to obey you while you are climbing a tree next to the dog park when all you have done is practice in your kitchen.

Today, I practiced Grom’s bark command inside the house.  I would sneak away when he wasn’t looking and ask for his bark command, “preach.”  He would have to run through the house looking for me.  When he found me he had to bark his head off.  I did this several times.  Sometimes he would find me sitting down.  Sometimes I would be laying on the floor or sitting on the bed.  Once I stared at the ceiling in a corner and completely ignored him.  He nearly came out of his skin trying to get my attention.  Boy, did he get a good reward for that one!

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