Friday, April 13, 2012

Driving cross-country back to NOVA, invisible fence, Kikopup

WAAAAHHHH it has been waaaaaaayyyy too long since my last post. I do have a good reason though. lol. For the last couple months my husband and I have been packing up all our stuff to prepare for his deployment and so I can move back to VA to be with family during it. So all of our stuff got put in storage except for some clothes which I had to ship to VA and the dogs. :)
Then, after he left, my mom flew out to California and helped me drive 3,000 miles with my puppies to her house. I've been here about a week and have some downtime right now cause I'm still trying to find a job, so hopefully I'll be able to keep up with this blog a little more for the next several months.

Well, a lot has happened (obviously).
Where to begin? That's the only problem.

This is a video I was recommended by fellow trainers from Kikopup's channel on YouTube. It is about how to train a dog to stay behind an invisible barrier. I am using her methods to train my dogs how to use the Invisible Fence. (For those of you who may not know, it's the electrical fence underground that transmits to a collar that delivers an electric shock if the dog tries to go past it).

The "traditional" method of training them on the fence would be to put flags up where the fence is and then walk the dog to the barrier and yank them back yelling no. Repeat until the dog is so terrified you're going to yank on them that they don't go near the flags again. Yay! =/ Then you associate the yanking on the leash when they're near the flags with the beeping noise emitted by the collar. Then you take the protective cover off of the collar's prongs so that if the dog doesn't back up when they hear the beep, they get shocked. What I'm trying to do is get my dogs to learn the barrier using only positive reinforcement. They choose to stay on their side of the barrier because that's where all the good things are! Then, once they have that down and do not cross the flags, I'm going to associate the barrier with the beeping noise on the collar. And my hope is that they will never get shocked because they will know that the beeping noise indicates they're leaving their area and will choose to turn around. Worst case scenario, they may get shocked one time which will only reinforce their desire to remain on their side of the invisible barrier. The difficult thing is the barrier I'm training them on is HUGE. My parents have an enormous yard. So, in Kikopup's video, her barrier is minuscule in comparison and it's going to take me a bit longer to proof my dogs on it. Meaning, I still have to add in distractions! Which is in Kikopup's second video:

Harley is doing very well. I've gotten to the point where she is off-leash and will wander around inside the barrier while I am on the other side. Only occasionally does she cross the barrier, and even then it's usually only a foot and in an area we have not practiced as much. I will start adding in small distractions with her today with my eventual goal being to throw a ball across the barrier and her stopping at the flags and not going past them. Hah! That will take me a while. =/ I'd like to have both Harley and Ace perfect on the fence and wearing their collars in a week so I can actually get out of the house! I'm basically trapped here until I do. I am able to leave them in my bedroom for very short periods of time if I have to run buy dog food (which I did the other day) but I do want to get a job while I'm here and need to start going to business to inquire about openings soon. Also, it'd be nice to be able to open the door when they need to go out and not walk them on the leash. Although, for a while at first I'll probably be an overprotective mother and hover on the porch watching them to make sure that they don't shock themselves or something. Or get into fights with my parents' dogs.

Aside from the barrier training, I have a VERY long list of things I want to work on with them. I also have a very long list of books I want to read related to training.
I'll let you know what all of those are letter. Gotta leave you wanting more, right? Hah.

So once I have my dogs trained on the invisible fence, I will let you know how that went. I'd like to be able to post a follow-up video to Kikopup's showing how to combine her barrier training methods with an actual Invisible (electric) Fence and collar.

Well, gotta run do some training! :)
More later.
Thanks for pawsing!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Dog Body Language and DINOS posters

I found these lovely posters by Dr. Sohpia Yin online. They have great illustrations of how to greet a dog, how kids should and should not interact with dogs, and identifying fear body language in dogs. 
You can download these and others as PDFs here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

In Training leash clips and Thundershirts

Good grief it's been ages since my last post. I really need to get back on the ball so I can stop beginning all of my posts like that! The holidays really put a dent in my blog life I suppose. I didn't really read anything new or do anything new training-wise with my dogs.

So, real briefly I'll just give an update on my pups. I mentioned that Ace got neutered back in November, and now he's all healed up! We took Harley in to the vet for an ear infection the day after Christmas, and it was so bad that they had to anesthetize her the next day to flush her ear out. They decided to spay her at the same time so she wouldn't have to go under twice and to save us money since anesthesia is so expensive. We took her to get her stitches removed Saturday morning, which was the day of her Intermediate class graduation but when they removed the sutures, the incision was still open and bleeding so we weren't able to go to class. :( But luckily, one of the other students couldn't go to class either so her graduation will be this Saturday! :) Unfortunately, my husband will be gone this weekend for work so he won't be able to attend her graduation. :( Also, when we went to the vet to get Harley's sutures removed, the vet also prescribed an anti-anxiety medication for Ace because he has pretty bad separation anxiety. We left for about 2 hours one night and when we came home, seven ornaments (plastic collectible Hallmark ornaments) had basically been shredded. And another time it was the carpet, and another time it was the dog bed, and the cinnamon pine cones from the coffee table,  and my watch, and the poop bags... and the list just goes on and on. Well, I think that's all of it.

Today, I finally made the "In Training" leash clips I've had planned for months.

Today, I also bought a Thundershirt for Ace. He is very reactive toward other dogs- any time he sees a dog he barks his head off. He's not aggressive by any means, but it started when he was a puppy - he would get so excited when he saw a dog and he wanted to play with them that he'd whine and bark. And now the barking is a lot louder and sometimes turns into almost a snarling sound. Well, the Thundershirt is supposed to be good for reactivity toward other dogs and barking (as well as many many other things), and I've heard that it's a miracle worker. So I put the shirt on him when I got home and then took him for a walk to see how he would do if we saw another dog. Well, there were no other dogs out, but we heard other dogs barking and usually he'd bark back, but he didn't. Yay! The only time he did bark was when we saw the mailman, and it was only a little "woof" and then I was able to get him quiet and calm again. It's also supposed to be good for separation anxiety. I'm a little scared to try it for that though, because I think Harley would try and eat it off of him. :P

One other thing that happened today was that Harley started playing with the door stop again. She hasn't done that since she was a little itty bitty baby! And the funny part was that I just watched the video of her playing with it as a puppy last night for the first time in a while! And luckily, I got her playing with it today on video. :)

Well, thanks for pawsing. More later, I promise. :)