Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wallace Payne Seminar - Obedience

For the obedience "show Wallace how you train" part, Kane and I did heeling, corners, about-turns, walking sit, walking down, recall and we also showed how we have started with the dumbell. We did ok, not great, his attention was not always on me, and he missed the first walking sit, instead he went into a down. I corrected and redid it.

Wallace's feedback for us was that I was the only one that trained, but only 75% of the time. I
was one of two people that used food. Why weren't there more? Wallace told me I do not reward very consistently, nor very fast, and I need to do so more often when Kane gives me good reason to.
He recommends that I do not train out of sequence - meaning in trial the walking down comes immediately after the walking sit, with no turns in between. This is also how I should train, some would call this "pattern training" and it's a personal choice. "Let your dog know what is coming." He also in general recommends that you master something before you go on to the next thing.

Wallace says he understands what I am trying to do with the dumbell retrieve training. He thinks it's going to take me a long(er) time to do it this way. He uses forced retrieves. He also recommends that I use the clicker for rewarding the bring and hold of dumbell training.
Wallace advocates precision, accuracy and attention fo
r a short period of time in the beginning, and he uses the clicker as a "non-emotional" marker for correct behavior. He says other schutzhund trainers are astonished to hear of him using clickers, but he says it works well for him. Here are the top 5 things I learned in obedience:
  • Corners in obedience should be 5 step corners. This is fine for trials as long as there is a distinct change of direction.
  • Use clicker to mark correct behavior
  • Kane should be able to handle distractions during heeling now.
  • Use leash for corrections, not hands
  • Rewards can be playing (no ball) or ball. Stay in one spot
Kane and I bumping trying to do a 90 degree corner, notice his attention is not on me...

Since Kane has a long body, 5 step corners will be better for us than 90 degree turns. Wallace feels that I will no
t loose points for this at trial, but I will definitely loose points for loss of attention which is happening now. Corners are trial must have a distinct change of direction.

Me calling out to Sean as a distraction...

Kane knows heeling well enough now that he should be able to handle distractions during basic position (sit in heel position) and also during the heeling. To increase difficulty, you increase the length. We tried this with me messing with my hair, calling out to Sean, Wallace touching his ear and other things.
If Kane moves his head or does not look at me, he gets a leash correction.

The leash is held with both hands fisted at or slightly below chest level. No tightness in leash, but short enough to be able to give a correction. Wallace used the clicker for me to mark good behavior. I think this worked very well, and I will ask my friends at practice and my trainer to help me with this. They can see if he is forged or lost attention and help me reward more consistently. I really like this idea.
When I'm by myself, I can hold the clicker with my right hand with the leash, click as a marker and then reward with my left hand - ALWAYS with the left hand.

Wallace advocates using the ball as a reward, not to just play. For this, he holds the ball up in front of the dog, or on the side (arm straight out) and tells the dog to "get it." Tug lightly on the ball to get the dog to pull back - that's what you want. Not you pulling but your dog pulling you. Use the OUT command and train again.

I think these obedience sessions gave us some great pointers on how to sharpen our performance and how to focus Kane's attention on the field. I will start to increase distance and distraction as we get better and then add in the about turns, walking sits and walking downs again. Group would be a form of distraction so we'll add that now as well.
Nice heeling, Kane!

Tuesday April 14, 2009

I've decided to post more about our day-to-day training as well, to make this more of a log than it is now:


To the left of the driveway. 75 paces, food in every third step, 5 step corner, 20 paces, no food in last 5 steps. Poor entry because I was waiting for Sean, entry needs to be more one thing after another and no wait. Good track on first leg, turned around once for missed food. Kane did the corner correctly. Tracked fine on last 5 steps.
Correct corner: 1 out of 5 more. (Before we do food in every 5 steps)
Next track - increase length of first leg to 100 paces, do 2 corners, no food in last 5 steps.

Worked on calm bring and hold of dumbell. Using clicker after he outs correctly.
Had to place dumbell in his mouth since he goes into avoidance, turns head or looks down. If I put some excitement into it and move back a few steps, he is more likely to reach for the dumbell himself. Small amount of mouthing. I only hold a finger under his chin now, none on top. 5 strokes on his forehead.
Next session: Same for this entire week.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Wallace Payne Seminar - Tracking

Kane, myself and my fiance spent the weekend at Metrolina Hundesport Schutzhund Club in Wingate, NC and attended a Wallace Payne seminar. It was great, and I feel like I learned a lot. I really enjoyed how the seminar was structured, and although we never made it into protection, the pointers that Kane and I got in tracking and obedience will really help propel us forward. Wallace's seminars are laid out very well, and he takes care that everyone shares their experiences and it's not only a one-on-one teaching. He first lets you do your own thing, be it tracking or obedience in this case, then he critiques everyone, people ask questions, and then you do it a second time around with his pointers, help and suggestions. The next day goes the same way. Here are the top 5 things I learned about tracking (in no particular order):
  • Make corners 5 step corners. That is fine in trial and how most track-layers lay tracks.
  • Stop marking corners, remember where they are (ugh!)
  • No need for long line, 6 foot leash ok until your dog can track with no food
  • How to properly approach and ready your dog for the track
  • How to correctly hold the leash, position my body and how to move with my dog when he moves
Since tracking is one of the things I have trouble understanding, I really appreciated the feedback and the chance to learn.

Ok, remember where you made that corner....

Wallace told me that 5 step corners is how tracking is done at trials. Hardly ever do you see a 90 degree corner. Wallace starts corners immediately when teaching tracking, no need to wait until the dog can do a longer straight track. While using food, there should be no food at the apex of the track, only right before and right after. When I make the corner, I should remember to make the corner on the inside foot, so that I don't confuse my dog with an outside footstep and an inside corner.
I need to get better at remembering where my corners are. I am not good at that, and I think I confuse Kane a lot at the corners because I'm unsure and he can f
eel it through the leash/line. More practice, I suppose.

The approach is handled with leash near collar in a fist in my left hand. Approach at slow to normal pace (for Stop right before your scent pad and slowly pull up on the leash to make the dog sit (without command).

Transfer the leash into my right hand, while keeping the leash above his head so that he does not drop down (to scent pad). Grab the dogs right leg (above ankle) under the leash, and wrap the leash around the leg. Keep the head up. You can verbally give an "ERR" if the head starts to drop. As soon as the leg is let go of, and hits the ground, give the command. "SEARCH." This seemed to calm Kane, and gave us a much better start, he went right into it and there was no need for whining etc.

The leash should be wrapped around my right hand and held in a fist at the end of the leash/line. The fingers of my left hand should rest on top of the line, sort of as a guide, or to feel the tension and make sure the tension is correct. The left hand should NOT press down on the leash, since the dog can feel that and can subsequently pull back.

While tracking, I should move when my dog moves. When he stops to eat (later on he won't stop of course), the leash should have no tension at all, let it hang loose. Then when he starts moving, the leash will tense up and I should feel it in my hand that he pulls me forward. My shoulders and elbows should be relaxed and my left shoulder should be in front of the right one

If Kane leaves the track, I can give a verbal "ERR" and then the "SEARCH" command again. If he fumbles around too much, starts spinning etc., then I can hold the leash in my left hand near his collar, point to the footstep with my right hand and give the "SEARCH" command, wait until he sniffs and moves forward, let the leash run through my hand and correct hand-position again.

At the end of my last track, I had 5 steps with no food. If he did that well, that's an indication to start leaving food in every 5 foot steps. This is how you progress.

I'm excited to start this new tracking routine, and now I need to find some good tracking fields!

Tomorrow I will post about the obedience part of Wallace's seminar. If you have the opportunity to go to one, you definitely should. It is worth the money and so much more. Thanks to Jeff Rentz at Metrolina for organizing this.