Log in

14 February 2011 @ 07:18 pm
Today we worked on further strengthening the new "push" command, which went very well. When there is more than one push-item present, she tends to get a little excited and push each one, looking for the one that will earn the C&T! I have been pointing to specific ones and giving the cue, which she is quickly catching onto.

To give her some variation in our clicker sessions, we also worked on some toy motivation. I clicked and treated for interaction with a toy as I fluttered it around to try to entice her. Of course at first she didn't quite understand what I was asking of her, but very quickly caught on and began to mouth the toy, pounce, and even pick it up. Our goal for this will be to eventually have her get excited about toys! And if we are lucky (very lucky!), to retrieve.

I have also noticed that she is watching me more and more.. her attention is getting better and better, and we haven't even started the attention sections yet.
13 February 2011 @ 04:06 pm
When she sees the box set down in the room she immediately starts offering her behaviors. I added a "push" cue where she will nudge/poke/push the box across the floor. Once reliably and comfortably pushing the box, I tried a pillow and then a cell phone. Great success!! I can now point at an object and give the command "push." What direction she will push will depend on her location relative to the item, but perhaps soon enough she will be able to push the object in a specified direction. I am debating whether or not to shape a pawing behavior, as anyone who is familiar with Ridgebacks will know that they tend to use their paws for most things anyways, and I'm not sure we need any more pawing than is necessary.. If I can think of something useful to come out of a pawing command, then maybe!

ETA: Worked at it again later today (frequent short sessions are key!) and she did well! She is performing on cue probably around 98% of the time which I think is pretty darn good.
15 January 2011 @ 07:08 pm
She was a little distracted today with the noise of shoveling snow and barking dogs outside, so she was a bit distracted during her lesson. We are going to try again later.. but she did offer the nudging, pawing, sniffing, staring, etc. despite the distractions, which was good. She offers two main behaviors (nudging & pawing) so I am going to try to target at least a third distinct behavior. By the end of the "box sessions" I hope to be able to get her to do something a little more.. further nudging, perhaps putting a paw in the box or flipping the box over..
14 January 2011 @ 03:47 pm
For Christmas I received the book "When Pigs Fly! Training success with impossible dogs" by Jane Killion and have started clicker-training my Ridgeback. She is far more easy going than most Ridgebacks I know, and by no means "impossible," but she can be very lackluster and unmotivated. She turned three a few months ago and I honestly am not sure why I didn't begin clicker training when I first got her.. it is a great tool and already I am seeing a great improvement in her -- she actually wants to offer me new behaviors and is becoming more eager in training sessions.

I should have started taking notes the day I started the clicker-training, but I will recap here:

First 3-5 Days: Three 5-10 minute training sessions per day introducing & "powering up" the clicker. I joked that my rabbit had caught onto clicker training much faster.. lol! I had moved far too fast, but he had understood the concept of the clicker and was offering me behaviors the very first few days of working with him. He easily learned how to pull cards out of my hand for a trick.

Second 3-5 Days: Two 5-10 minute training session per day continuing the "power up" and pairing her name with a click & treat. I had difficulty getting her to look at me rather than stare transfixed at my hands behind my back, but the second or third day of this she caught on right away and was absolutely perfect in offering the proper eye contact.

January 13: Feeling confident that she understood what the click meant, I prepared for the next lesson, following the book's instructions. This lesson involved free shaping with a box. Any interaction with the box was to be rewarded and I was not allowed to lure her, but I was allowed to walk around the box if she absolutely wouldn't do anything. After a lot of nothing, I walked around the box and we finally made a tiny bit of progress. By the end of the lesson (5-10 minutes long) I was able to get her to lower her head slightly and stare at the box.

January 14, Today!: I honestly was not expecting too much today since her performance yesterday was so painfully slow, but she really surprised me! I took out the box and waited. The beginning half of the lesson she offered to stare at the box, which I continued to reward. She began to stare at the box with her head lower and lower, and by the end of the lesson she had begun to nudge the box with her nose and occasionally with her paws. Success!! I did another 10 minute box exercise a few hours later and she was AMAZING! Right away she started nudging and pawing the box reliably.. she was actually thinking and using her brain to come up with behaviors to earn a click!
11 October 2010 @ 05:07 pm
Another Piece of the Puzzle: Puppy Development by Pat Hastings
Puppy Puzzle DVD by Pat Hastings
Building Blocks for Performance by Bobbie Anderson
K-9 Structure & Terminology by Edward Gilbert, Thelma Brown
An Eye for a Dog: Illustrated Guide to Judging Purebred Dogs by Robert W. Cole
Canine Reproduction And Whelping: A Dog Breeder's Guide by Myra Savant-harris
The New Complete Shetland Sheepdog by Maxwell Riddle
All About Aussies - Hartnagle
The Total Australian Shepherd: Beyond the Beginning -  Hartnagle
BREEDING DOGS TO WIN - Carmelo Battaglia
Conquering Ring Nerves -  Diane Mayer
Structure in Action, The Makings of a Durable Dog - Pat Hastings
Stockdog Savvy - Hartnagle
27 August 2010 @ 10:16 pm
Every year The Fort has a type of block yard sale where everyone pitches a stand and goes ape selling all of their stuff, new and old. The majority of the items I have absolutely no interest in buying and using in any practical sense, but I almost always walk out with a 25 cent book. Last year it was Seabiscuit, which I'd never actually read before. Today there was a nice selection of odds and ends. I bought a calligraphy pen with six different nibs and ink, a giant pack of new ballpoint pens in blue, black, and red, and four books:

[1] Shakespeare, Twenty-three Plays and the Sonnets, issued by the United States Armed Forces Institude of Madison, Wisconsin -- an amazing find, it is a gorgeous old book, printed in 1938 by Charles Scribner's Sons. I've already started reading "The Comedy of Errors," believed to be one of Shakespear's earliest works. [2] Read, Write, Speak German by Harry Steinhauer, 1965. I've always been curious about learning German, and for such a fair price what can go wrong? I am proud to say that I am able to read and understand the first lesson with ease, so far so good! The pronunciation though is another matter. [3] Tough Trip Through Paradise by Andrew Garcia, edited by Bennett H. Stien. "Montana, 1878--Andrew Garcia left the army at 23 and went out with a party of traders to make a living among the Indians in the Montana wilderness...This is his story, discovered in a dynamite box in the cabin where he died at the age of 88." [4] Outback by Aaron Fletcher, apparently a saga about a man and a young Aboriginal woman who was traded to him by her family.

I can't wait to eat through these books! Should be enough material to last me at least a couple of months.

EDIT: I forgot to mention that Petey the Corgi tried to make off with a stuffed children's toy from the stands. He ran a few feet away to entice Charlie the Golden to tug with him.. hilarity ensued! No worries, the stuffie was unharmed and returned.
07 August 2010 @ 08:50 pm
I haven't had a Friday as nice as yesterday's in ages. I started a new exercise regime, fed my OC hunger, and spent the majority of the afternoon mucking out the duck pen and giving it a much needed face-lift. Strangely enough, raking around in straw is somehow therapeutic and enjoyable. Afterwards I freshened up, curled the hair and put on the face and by the time the fam got home it was agreed that since we were all dressed up (and by no certain planning) that we should go out to eat at "The Club," a fantastic local restaurant that I have not been to in well over two years, with the best steak & potatoes, and as I discovered, genuine ginder ale. Sixty dollars later we hit the red box and scurried home to watch. It all sounds simple enough, maybe even boring to some!, but nevertheless, it was a good day.
01 August 2010 @ 08:37 pm
My eight Khaki Campbells are roughly three and a half months old now, and were originally purchased for pets and secondly for herding. Things have changed since I've had them..

We now have a huge assortment of wild birds entering the yard and mingling with the flock. They share their food, their water, and their grass. Numerous times I have also caught the wild birds taking a dip in the dog's water buckets.

I am fairly convinced that every time a human-shape appears at the back door, opened or not, the ducks will, in unison, quack as loudly as they can.

The grass is always greener on the other side. The fences are situated in such a way that both the ducks and the dogs can be out at the same time without being in the same yard as one another. Several times I have peeked out the window to see the ducks napping right on the fence line with the dogs. Other times I will see the ducks poking their heads through the chain link to nibble at the dog's grass, despite the fact that the grass on the duck's side is in fact, much lusher and greener.

They are camera-shy. Every time I wish to take a video of some crazy quirk I notice reoccurring in the flock, everyone instantly forgets said quirk, but will perform it each and every time only when I forget the video camera.

They have no set bed-time like chickens do, and are quite often up at all hours of the night, eating, quietly clucking, and taking moonlit dips in the pool.

I can easily walk outside for some short errand and end up accidentally blowing an hour or more just watching them swim, frolic, and graze. ♥<3
29 July 2010 @ 06:35 pm
The Event at Rebecca Farms was well worth the drive! The set-up was amazing -- over 100 different jumps situated across 640 acres, a dressage and show jumping arena and large tents to house the trade show and information booths. We were able to walk nearly the entire cross country course for a very up-close experience, and when it got too hot we climbed the summit and watched the riders from above in the comfort of one of the shade-tents. There were apparently around 20,000 spectators and 500 competitors (many from all across the globe, including several Olympic riders!) who competed each day in three events (dressage, jumping, and cross country), looking to gain the highest combined score towards winning a portion of the $180,000 prize, awarded only to the top 15 riders in the World Cup Eventing standings at the end of the tour. The Event at Rebecca Farms is only one of the twelve stops in the World Cup tour, and apparently the only one in the U.S!

I was only able to make it one day of the show, so I chose to go on the day they were doing cross country. Hopefully next year I will be able to stay longer!

19 July 2010 @ 06:54 pm
I miss horses like crazy. It's hard to believe it's been nearly two years now since I've been able to go riding. I've always wanted to learn english, particularly jumping. Lessons on top of dog classes isn't exactly affordable, though I hope sometime in future I will be able to cope and find a trainer. This weekend I will be venturing out to Rebecca Farms to watch the world-class equestrian triathlon, which is apparently the only HSBC/FEI eventing world cup qualifier in the US. I am beyond excited!! I've never been to anything like this before; I hope it will be the first of many more to come.