Wednesday, November 19, 2008

AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy Program

I will be offering AKC S.T.A. R. Puppy Classes starting January 6th, 2009.

What are the AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy test items?
The test items are in 3 sections- Owner Behaviors, Puppy Behaviors, and Pre-CGC Behaviors.
For details related to administering the test, see the AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy Evaluator Guide.
20 STEPS To Success: The AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy Test

1.Maintains puppy's health (vaccines, exams, appears healthy)
2.Owner receives Responsible Dog Owner's Pledge
3.Owner describes adequate daily play and exercise plan
4.Owner and puppy attend at least 6 classes by an AKC Approved CGC Evaluator
5.Owner brings bags to classes for cleaning up after puppy
6.Owner has obtained some form of ID for puppy-collar tag, etc.

7.Free of aggression toward people during at least 6 weeks of class
8.Free of aggression toward other puppies in class
9.Tolerates collar or body harness of owner’s choice
10.Owner can hug or hold puppy (depending on size)
11.Puppy allows owner to take away a treat or toy

12.Allows (in any position) petting by a person other than the owner
13.Grooming-Allows owner handling and brief exam (ears, feet)
14.Walks on a Leash-Follows owner on lead in a straight line (15 steps)
15.Walks by other people-Walks on leash past other people 5-ft away
16.Sits on command-Owner may use a food lure
17.Down on command-Owner may use a food lure
18.Comes to owner from 5-ft when name is called
19.Reaction to Distractions-distractions are presented 15-ft away
20.Stay on leash with another person (owner walks 10 steps and returns)

Nose Game #1

This is a game that is simple, cheap and keeps the pups busy for a few minutes. It seems ot have a calming effect on them.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

ASCA Rally?

Is it finally happening? Can this be true?
The Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA) is going to add Rally to their titling event. Really! I heard it thought the ASCA grapevine (Robyn and Barb) that they will be offering it at the ASCA Nationals. This means that all breed dogs can compete in Rally. Sure APDT has offered Rally for many years, but there aren't any trials this way.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

got Nose?

Inspired by Steve White and my cousin I introduced "Nose Games" to my Puppy and Basic Manners classes. One of the games is finding food in plastic containers with wholes in the lid. All puppies and dogs catch on very quickly and love using their noses. Hiding the food under wash cloths or dish towels is another favorite. Or hiding a toy under a sheet or blanket and letting the dog sniff it out is a favorite of Rylie, my Cattle Dog.
The video shows another simple game that is now being used by many dog trainers to help dogs learn to use their noses.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Reactive Dogs

Working with a reactive dog and keeping him below threshold takes practice, knowledge, dedication and understanding of the dog's needs. No amount of pressure, force, dominance, yelling, hitting, hanging, kicking will get these dogs to perform at any level, pet or competition without some fear. It only suppresses the unwanted behavior for a short time. Then there are dogs that are shy and somewhat fearful or concerned about what is going on in the environment. Pressure is the last thing a dog needs in that situation. Controlling a dogs behavior is not letting the dog control his behavior. Eye contact should be earned by the human, not forced. Asking for permission for everything is not putting the dog in control of his emotions. The dog that are in control are the ones that are more relaxed in a situation. Keeping a dog below threshold is a very important part of training. If the dog is reacting, training can not occur. The brain is in a sensory overload mode. Progression form flat buckle collar to prong collar is not the solution. Causing any kind of discomfort will only make the matter worse.

Operant Dog

Dogs that are operant seem to be happier. I clicker train all my dogs and I would not train them any other way.
When I teach a new behavior I like to start out by shaping. Shaping is an advanced form of clicker training and my dog has to be operant. That means, offering a new movement if I don't click and reward. That is why mixing clicker training and non reward markers (NRM) does not work well. Dogs will stop to become operant.
Once a behavior looks like the end product, I add a verbal cue while my dog is doing the behavior. Shortly after that is when I stop using the clicker and start using the verbal marker instead.
No more clicking needed, at that location with that behavior. Timing of the verbal cue is important and if it is being used to soon my dog does not know what behavior I am asking him to do. Once the behavior is on verbal cue I do not reward my dog for offering that behavior. That is were some trainers get confused and claim that clicker dogs can't do a long sit or long down.