Wednesday, April 16, 2014

New Litter Plans for fall 2014!

Keep watching for more details soon...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Visit from Jill

Recently we had the pleasure to keep Jill (formerly B&W girl) with us for 2 weeks. What a fun young girl. TONS of bird drive, and well behaved in the house too! She has been hunting wild grouse with her owner, learning the game, and doing great. So when her owner came to pick her up, SO we decided to try a pheasant track, in the NAVHDA style, to see how she would do. So much natural instinct! She was "rarin" to go at the start point and took off tracking the exact path, cutting into the cover at the exact spot, locating the "wounded" pheasant easily, chasing it down for the retrieve. While she did carry it around a bit too long being overly proud, when she did finsally come back, she delived to hand and the pheasant with still alive and well. NO hard mouth! Just a get the job done kind of dog.
Thank you to her owner for sharing her with us.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Collar Conditioning

Scout is old enough to begin collar conditioning. I usually wait until I have a few defiant moments on the "here" command. Scout has been fairly good about staying with me and listening, but it's time to move forward. He is showing just enough hesitation on the voice command only that I have something to work with.

Scout has also already had a bark collar on a bit to help correct some issues with our two cats. So wearing a collar is not new to him. This takes out the step that I usually put on the collar and let young dogs wear it around for a few hours a few days in a row. Make sure you tighten it correctly so they become familiar with the feeling, but leave the collar off for these first days.

Also I accustom the dogs to pulling around a Check Cord. Scout isn't ranging enough for me to have used it much, so we spent a few days letting him pull it around anyway. Once he is not tripping over it and ignores it mostly we can begin the collar conditioning. I also review here with a CC tug a few times, reminding him of the pressure from the collar location.

Same as before, we just take a walk with the CC on and the E-collar on the dog as before but turned on. I carry treats for this and set the collar to the lowest level. On my TT sport model it's 1/2 setting. Shock yourself with that setting - and see what you are using I always test the lowest few settings on a collar on my hand.

Keep the the CC close when you are about to command "here." Make sure your controller is set correctly and that you can either step on or grab the CC with 1 hand. Command "here" and reward with a treat if they come back. If not, grab the CC with one hand, repeat the here command loudly but not angrily... and correct with the collar on the very lowest setting while you gently tug the CC. When conditioning I will repeat the command encouragingly and even go back to bending down. Normally repeating the command is not good, but right now I am trying to give them LOTS of cues for understanding and complying. I pulse the correction for about a half second each time, and call "here" with a tug on the CC each time. AS SOON as they start to return, I start praising and pull them in with the CC if needed to keep them coming, then reward. Some dogs don't respond to the lowest setting but most do feel it - but as you know from trying it on yourself, it does not really hurt. You should see a slight stiffening or they might have a confused look, BUT they SHOULD NOT yipe and jump.
ALWAYS reward for every return, and let them have several minutes of run around time in between here commands. This allows them to feel comfortable with being away from you. If you overdo it they will start to walk very close to you, afraid to walk away.

Repeat maybe 3 times in the first session. You should notice a very sharp change and your dog will return much more promptly. If they turn immediatly and do not hesitate DON'T correct them - DO reward them. Wait until you have one second (one mississippi... say in in your head) of hesitation, before giving the correction. Give their brain time to think and send the signals to the body. not too much time though. Keep using the CC to MAKE them turn and find the success, if you need to.That hesitation should get shorter and shorter. As they get faster and better and you see they are understanding what is happening, you can reduce the cues back down.
Remember 3 times or so the first day. And from now on keep this up on daily walks. 2-3 here commands with the collar, AND praise, and reward.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Conformation showing - Foundation training

Scout has started a little work towards conformation showing with the clicker.
Below are his first 3 steps...

Step 1: Holding the head
I want Scout to be familiar with this, and comfortable when I hold his head and move it around. This helps be hold him still or shift his weight slightly as needed, but also preps him for examination later.

Step 2: Holding the head and touching the body and leg
I want him to be confortable with my handling and touching him, while he is still letting me hold his head. I also want him to wait nicely during this.

Step 3: Holding the head and moving the front left leg.
I keep holding the head, and start moving the leg around from the elbow. At this point I don't care where I move it, I just click for his cooperation while I move it.

Next time we will place both legs and hold a bit longer... I hope...
Keep in mind this is secondary to his whoa work.  But also enhanced by it as he learns to control his own movement and be still.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Field work and directly related obedience

Here is Scout working on whoa.

Here is a quick video taken of Sage. No glossing over this - she know SIT TOO WELL! Watch as I work through it to get the right whoa. As I said last post she need to work on whoa WITHOUT and sit, 2 x day for at least a week, before revisiting sit.  (Also the video is sideways. Thought I could fix that but it's giving me issues.... hopefully soon to be correct!)

All the puppies have had exposure to birds months ago, but when I see enough size and run for them to get out in the field getting through the cover with confidence, I start putting good flying birds out for them. Good flyers help them to learn to hold more naturally.

Once I have a confident pup starting to catch on, I add in a blank gun. This is NOT an introduction. They have had introductions to the cap gun and I have peridically continued that while taking happy timing walks. It is just the first time around birds. Given that, they should pay almost no attention to it at first.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

More training basics

Sage (green girl) is soon to go to her new home, and we have been compiling videos of her training progress to send along.
Sage has learned that sit can have different positions. It has grown into a "Front" Command and a "Heel" command witch at this point is mostly a return to heel.

Maybe you noticed her eagerness to sit in the video. She is bordering on TOO MUCH sit training. Until her whoa is settled. I would touch on this 1-2 times a week, but work whoa 2 times a day for several weeks, before spending much time cleaning up the position or extending the walk portion of heel.

Sage has learned to target ("touch") my hand, which is a building block of training for several other commands.

Sage extends the target, with some positional work into learning "Down." She does not like this very much and was slow to get it but she is catching on. Still, being a GSP it's hard to figure out a way to be hyper and wiggle while lying down. :)

She also extends touch by learning to ring a bell to ask to go out. This is late to teach this, but she has developed a habit of sitting quietly to ask and that is not working when we are busy. It would seem that you would notice her sitting quietly, as it is UNUSUAL, but I think it becomes the first time you can actively NOT notice her. After some serious regression while the rest of the family was watching her and I was out working other dogs, we had to re-institute the full time crate when mom-Laurie is not inside, and start training a better way to ask. SO here is the beginning of that. (I am ashamed but mistakes provide learning opportunities for us both!)

to continue this she needs to learn to ring it harder. Once she actively knows that touching the bell gets her out, we will do some targeting practice and only click for the harder touches. Then when she touches it hard all the time, we will start to only click for bells ringing loudly. There is some potential confusion for her, as she is very likely to hear the bell make noise at a much softer touch than I do.

Sage still uses her spin trick. It's easy and always gives us something to lighten the mood, and end well on. Overdoing this is WAY BETTER than over doing the sit command. If she has to do a trick for treats with the kids or grandkids... THIS is the trick for her to do for the next few weeks.

This is a good trick to try. After you have been play retrieving and your puppy is excited, offer you puppy something easy to hold, but not a toy. Here she uses a rolled piece of newspaper. If she takes it say "hold" (or fetch or take) and reward her with praise. Then quickly tell her "drop" and take the item back. Reward her with praise AND a treat. Since the item is newspaper and not a toy, once she took it she realized she really didn't want it much and drop comes easily. But once you can reward her for taking it from your hand you might be able to get her to do it again. This is early prevention for refusal issues later. You are TEACHING her to take it, even when it has not flown through the air and even when it is not an exciting toy. This will become more useful than you can imagine!

More often puppies will look at you and be confused, but if your puppy will try to take it capture it and work with it. If not, then I will try to show how to handle that also.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Clicks For Tricks

Tricks for Clicks - Clickers for future birddogs.

Clicker Training is the tool of “Positive” trainers today and remains less than popular for birddog trainers. The clicker often comes with this positive only mindset, and thus most positive trainers are NO e-collar, NO punishment trainers. Before this movement, clicker training was still around. It’s core concepts are used by zookeepers, marine animal trainers, and classic operant conditioning scientists with their lab rats. And now millions of pet owners. It’s very effective at helping dogs learn quickly and grasp concepts and I have grown to love it for puppy training. I DO use e-collars, and I do NOT carry this clicker out into the field, but it helps establish commands that you will use later and can reinforce with your preferred methods. Read up in old books and you will see all kinds of elaborate way to teach WHOA including posts, trees, pulleys, etc… All this is trying to teach an older birddog who loves to run to stop on command and stand still. This has become my preferred method and I can avoid all the posts and pulleys.

In short, the clicker is a “marker” that is used to tell the dog exactly when they are performing the behavior you want. The click is processed in a part of the brain that works more quickly and forms more permanent associations than listening to a voice marker, like “good dog.” You can use the voice and train the same way, but you will be slower, and the dog will be slower and capturing behaviors is harder, but possible. SO this is a tool many still choose to skip.

You can read more about Clicker Training here:

Start with charging the clicker. In this game we associate the sound of the clicker with getting a reward. (Reward Marker) Small treats are given within 1-2 seconds of making the click sound. We want the puppy to begin to perk their ears and maybe even salivate when they hear the click. (Pavlov’s bell, right? You learned it in Psych 101) The dogs develops a physiological response to the sound, and thus knows immediately when a behavior is “correct.” I will not post a video of this because it is boring to watch. CLICK…TREAT. Repeat. You click, you give a treat right away, and you do it repeatedly spacing it out and keeping it up until the dog associates the treat and starts to expect it, when they hear the CLICK.

Next, I work through all the commands we started shaping in the earlier videos, and get more defined responses to the commands they have already been introduced to. It goes quickly. Here is “green girl” reviewing and adding the clicker to Sit, Stand, and Here, and Whoa.
SIT VIDEO - (green girl)

HERE and Review VIDEO - (green girl)

I add in a spin command as a fun action command that is a tension breaker to use for the active puppy who wants to go go go. It is “parlor tricks” stuff, and certainly not needed, but fun.

VIDEO - Moxie (pink girl)

VIDEO - Moxie (pink  girl)

Next we are going to extend the whoa. This is where the clicker is SO nice. I don’t have to restrain the dog or touch them at all, I just whoa as before, but then quickly move my hand away and immediately CLICK-TREAT. They begin to associate the reward with the treat AWAY from them and an ever so slight hesitation. NOW, we have a hesitation to work with and can extend that on to a true whoa. See below videos.

VIDEO - (blue boy)

The same can be applied to SIT, but their is no need to create the hesitation with the quick away hand motion, because SIT is a stop command already. That is,  to move they have to get OUT OF THE SIT.

DOWN- Lie Down, not OFF!
 For some dogs Down comes easily, but for these GSP’s it can be a bit of a foreign concept. SO I usually end up starting with a Underarm Pass… below.
Clicker DOWN - green girl

Moxie (Pink girl)

We then Lower the arm until the dog must crawl to get through. AT this point we CLICK the moment the elbows tough the ground. That is extended to when the elbows and rear are both on the ground. And then we can start to remove the arm.

And again extend the Down in the same way. Just wait a bit longer before the click.

Clicker Tip - do not expect too much. You should be getting greater than 80% success even when they are learning and over 95% when you add time or move up the standards.

You should have a passionate retrieving buddy and can now (probably you already have...) move out of the hall. Now you can work on adding some distractions and teaching that running off with the toy is boring, but bringing it back is FUN!
1) Keep working on "DROP" or "GIVE" and add in some challenges. A few attempts at running of should end with the puppy searching for you and bringing it back, since you DIDN'T chase them like they hoped. If you have children wanting to run after them and chase them, then you have a dog that likes to run away. You have to stop that, and make the children sit down and don't chase!!  Sometimes training the family is harder than training the puppy. Also other dogs LOVE to chase, and that is exactly what they remember where their littermates chased them and how FUN it was. So play without other dogs around unless they are trained to be able to "honor a retrieve" and will not chase when you ask.
2) Without requiring it, you can start to withhold throwing the toy until the dog sit's or stands still. They will quickly start to try to get you to throw it by doing which ever you prefer. (Side note - If you want a upland birddog to STAND on point, then be sure your puppy will stand as often as sit. You can watch in the videos of Green girl above, that she is slow to STAND and HERE sometimes because the SIT is so preferred. Don't let the dog get over fond of sit. Make sure other commands are as important. Some of you may avoid sit entirely for a while.)
3) Add in a command for searching for the toy if they do not see where it falls, and help them find it. We use "Hunt it up." They should learn to start looking for something any time you say this. Eventually, you can hide the toy and say "Hunt it up!" and they will dash around and start looking, but for the beginning it should be very easy to find, or help them find it.