Monday, June 15, 2009

Training Day 1

I was so pleased with all the responses I received regarding our walkie challenges. No detail is too much for me and I was particularly intrigued by the keen observations around my poor use of verbal queues during the brief movie with Dexter. While I can't guarentee to keep it up, I am going to try and post about our training adventures at least for a while.

Don't worry, I will let Mango post tonight.

This morning I decided to mix things up a bit. Our usual routine is that I walk Dexter followed by playtime in the yard, but today I did playtime first. I might need to rethink when to feed the dogs as I like Mango to wait at least an hour and a half after meals before any vigorous exercise because he is a big, intact male that eats kibble which sets him up as a prime candidate for bloat.

So out in the yard we went where Dexter did some retrieving and then the boys had a nice game of chase and bitey face. Dex did a quick pee, but he clearly had to poop from the looks of his hiney. No amount of encouragement worked on that front, so I decided time to try walking.

For this training period, I have decided to use treats and the martingale collar. I took Dex inside and left Mango in the yard. Rather than letting Dexter go all cracker dog at the sight of the leash, I insisted on a nice sit and had him wait at the door while I went out.

Then lots of treats and encouragement and he was doing very well so I thought we would try a short walk. He was sitting automatically when I stopped but would jump up again after a reward, so I had him wait in a sit at each pause for a bit longer and then some more after his reward. Thus we got across the street and down the short block to a quiet side street. Now I knew he really needed to poop. Sigh. I have been trying to teach him that "free dog" means its OK to sniff and do his business, but he was pretty focused (hooray) and would not investigate his favorite spots. I opted for the shortest loop possible and after we rounded the bend I gave him his head a bit and was rewarded with a nice big poop (something only a dog mother could love).

Sadly, at this point I discovered that I was almost out of treats (uh oh) so we headed for home. I saved the last treat for a street crossing and made sure to get a nice sit and good attention. He did pretty well on the way back all things considered. A bit of a tussle waiting to cross the street into our driveway, but this is where he needs to be most attentive as our street is quite busy during the morning hours and the cars go fast with little visibility. So we waited and waited even when nothing was coming. OK, once we went across the street and up the driveway he was pulling a bit, but I was out of treats and we were headed for home, so I kind of jogged along behind him.

Poor Mango. He is used to having Dexter take his walk while he (Mango) slumbers in the dog cave and when Mango realized that I had snuck inside with Dexter for some fun action Mango put up quite a fuss, all moaning and yelling (a sound which carries for a disturbingly long distance). When Dexter and I arrived home, Mango was quite huffy about being left out and gave me some solid head butts. But all was quickly forgotten as the boys had another round of bitey face and a quick dip in the pool.

I wanted to get this down while it was still fresh in my head. I am very encouraged. Dexter is quite clever. I think he is stressed by the pulling as well since his body language when he is pulling is not happy at all. His tail is down, ears are back, and he has that slinky gait that I associated with a stressed out dog. Uh oh, looks like I am going to be late for work again. Blame the dogs.

Mango Momma


Agatha and Archie said...

Well this could be an all time first..We are first!! It sounds like you are getting this under control!! treats work really really well.PL1+2 now go outside with the entire kitchen closet of treats on their backs to make for an easy walk(we go alittle,ahem,NUTS over certain ,shall we say objects(cats, squirrels, certain dogs) so PL2 says"Check in "and we look at her and she throws us a treat. Only she has to be faster than us in seeing these "threats"so this means she is constantly looking like she is a spy checking out the territory...Ah what they do for us..Love and kisee A+A

Gus said...

Hmmm...maybe we should try the treat routine with Teka, who pulls horribly. At under 13 lbs, she has pulled me down twice, once in the middle of a street! Not sheer strength, but a very clever dog, who has discovered that stopping dead directly in front of me and then tangling me in the lead while attacking Gussie works. Now we both walk the dogs, and my husband is not a disciplinarian by any definition of the word. I am encouraged by your success, and will take her leash back for a few walkies.

thank you

barb(gussie's muzzer)

The 'splorin' Wolfies said...

hahaha mystical land!! yes, that is close to our home-- Mango you are so funny!

♥Mimi♥ said...

As long as Dex is pulling his mind is telling him that HE is in control of the situation. YOU should always be in control and be his alpha. Never give it up because when you do, you lose!

Sounds like the little treats are going to really help! Walk him BEFORE he eats and then he will be more attentive to you. Also, if you play with both of the dogs to wear Dex out, if you do it before breakfast is served, then you won't have to worry about bloat with your big guy.

Is there a reason why Dex is still an intact male? That could also be contributing to his "attitude".

Rocky Creek Scottie Adventures said...

Our Mom says it takes a Labrador Retriever about 6 years before it becomes calm. We don't know if Scotties ever do become calm!!

All jokes aside, (sorry about this next comment, Mango) Labradors are so intelligent and really do want to please. You are wise in walking him by himself and being repetitive. But that puppy instinct will come out just when you think you have him under control. Java is extremely good at voice commands when we are at home on the farm, but I wouldn't dare take him to the Vet or to a park off leash. They are just strong dogs and strong willed dogs. But if you keep you your good training, you will see success.

Also Java responds well to one word commands like - heel, side, sit - not Javaheel or Javasit. He knows who you are talking to and he knows his name - he just needs the one word command to know what to do.

Lilly, Piper, Carrleigh and Java

Khyra The Siberian Husky And Sometimes Her Mom said...

Ah yes: The DOH Trikhk!

When in doubt, blame THE DOGS!

Purrrrrrhaps woo khould/should blame the khat!

PeeEssWoo: We SOOOOOO love to test sanity and reason!

GoldenSamantha said...

I think you've already made progress! The poo issue sounds like a real problem tho - will he go even when Mango isn't out with him? Ve-e-errrry interesting. But it sounds like you've made a dent in the tugging bigtime. You are working so hard on this - it does take time, as you know - with all things dog training... especially with retrievers, I think.
Hugs xo
Sammie and mom

ocmist said...

I used to train dogs, and I've always used a choker chain collar.
I've never allowed a dog to pull on the leash... it is one of the first things I teach. The choker chain has always worked well for me as it only takes a few times (with most dogs) of a quick jerk/ release (never keep a continued pull) and I usually say, "no pulling" and as soon as they quit, reward.

I've always used "OK" as the signal that they have "free rein" for the length of the leash, but even then, they aren't allowed to pull. In this way, the choker collar is never really choking them because I always use a quick jerk/release... even if there are several in a row to get their attention, and then a reward when I have it. I feel it is more pleasant for the dog to not be choking all the time, and it is much more pleasant for me, too.

Labs are generally very smart and learn fairly quickly, and I'm sure Dexter will learn fast, but I do agree with Mimi... you must always remain "Alpha Dog." Al least that is the way that I've always used and it works for me. :)

Biggie-Z said...

sounds like you are making great strides! The no-pooping in the yard has got to be contributing to Dex's pulling. Poor little dude, he is probably so excited to be free of Mango's dominance that he is just bounding all over the place!

Dennis the Vizsla said...

hello mangos mama its dennis the vizsla dog hay i no this is off topik but my dada wanted me to tel yoo thanks for gitting his buk frum amazoncom he hopes yoo like it!!! ok bye

Joe Stains said...

ok dude, sounds like all this treat getting is the way to go for sure. You are training the Mom quite well. I bet the neighbors think you have some giant wailing dinosaur hiding in your yard.