Friday, June 19, 2009

Training Day 5

First a brief note as to why Dexter is much easier for walkie training than Mango.

(1) I am more confident on our walks. Dex is only 75 pounds and I know that I can (worst case) physically drag him away from any confrontation. To think about training Mango, imagine if you will trying to attach a leash to a 230 pound athlete. Who is going to be able to pull him away from something interesting? I have yet to find a place to attach a leash (head halter, whatever) that can deter him once his on the end barking and lunging and if I don't anticipate him I quickly find myself on the ground.

(2) Dexter is, well, very clever and learns quickly. Mango is, I will say diplomatically, I more methodical student with an attention span of at most ten minutes after which he will typically just assume the down stay to rest his weary brain.

(3) Dex adapts to new situations well. Mango pretty much needs things the same all the time and his brain goes into overdrive when he sees something new. He has a hard time recognizing me or my husband when we are carrying objects or pushing a wheelbarrow (don't even ask about the lawn mower), so on walks, where we see strange people (like with backpacks, canes, or the dreaded children on big wheels) he gets very stressed out by trying to figure out whether it is friend or foe. Mango's response to something scary is to try and bark to keep it away from us. Dex can sometimes be startled by something new, but is brave enough to go and check it out. Dex also checks in with me when he is unsure whereas Mango wants to take things into his own paws.

(4) Dexter is extremely food motivated. It is rare that he won't respond to food (although he has not yet learned a good recall, next on the list, when he is a distance off and there is something interesting). I have even trained Dexter with "air treats" in the times I run out (only works a couple of times, but it works).

Don't worry, the week is almost out and Mango will have his blog back soon. He is going to post tonight.

That said, if I wasn't doing these updates, I would have gotten lax in my Dexter walkie routine already, but having seen big progress from just a few days, I have decided to extend the rigorous window to a month. Who knows, maybe I will form a new habit of demanding good behavior from the little guy.


I have a bait bag that goes around my waist like a fanny back. It has two pockets that makes it easier to get a high or low value treat without looking. The boys both know that the bag means training. At some point I will train without it, but not worrying about that now.

We are currently using a martingale collar and a six foot canvas leash.

Low value treats are usually some of his breakfast kibble. High value are either training treats from the dog store or hot dogs. I always use soft treats for high value and break them into the smallest pieces possible. I have found that a treat can be of too high a value and result in Dexter going kind of mental cracker dog (so no homemade livers treats for training - just for backyard hunts and those times when Mango refuses to come in from the yard).


I feed Dex from my left hand when he is in heel position. I try to vary my body language. Sometimes my hand is down by my side, sometimes with a treat, sometimes not. Sometimes I keep my hand at my waist. Since I often pre-load my right hand and then grab them one at a time with my left, I try to mix up that motion by pretending to get a treat and then just leaving my empty left hand at my side. I must say, the little guy still needs to learn about taking treats gently and he pinches my fingers at least once on each walk. I am working on that, but when we are actually moving forward, I just try and flat palm the treat as much as possible to avoid his little shark attack.

If I do "give him his head" to find a poop spot (typically under enough bushes to make it a total pain to pick up) I try to be ready to jog a bit behind him so as not to let the leash go taught. I am trying to make sure that a tight leash *never* is combined with forward motion.

Mainly, I am focusing on not having a reliable "tell" as to when I have something in my hand and when I don't. The fact of the bait bag itself is enough for him to know there is food available and I am sure my hands smell most yummers.

I've stuck to the same warren of side streets for now which can accommodate a 1/4, 1/2, or 1.5 mile loop. Today we opted for the 1/2 given inclement weather. He is getting good at doing a quick squirt here and there, but I still need to formally halt training to get him to do his poops.

I can't say it enough, that the most important thing I have learned is the meaning of consistency. I realize now that I have not really stuck to one objective for more than a few days in the past. This week, it is one route, lots of treats, little talking.

Until tomorrow,
Mango Momma


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

If woo need me to khome mentor and/or tutor, just paw me!

I khan modify my training style given the audience!

I just KNOW the Panty Loons would work fur one of 'em!

Good lukhk Mango Momma!

PeeEssWoo: I do hope Mango doesn't see the part about the 'air treats' - something tells me Pee Wee would never live that one down!

Agatha and Archie said...

Ah yes,the old consistency rooutine..PL2 learned the hard way! and was changing things every five minutes till she realized the same thing...gotta stick with one thing!!! She said shee would get rid of the bait bag too.....4 years later and we still seem to have it!!(whatever workds!!) and no we can not even BEGIN to imagine walking the big fella...Love A+A PS WHAT IS WITH THIS RAIN????

Anonymous said...

Hi Mango Momma, I don't know if you know this buy my Mommy does in your home doggie training! She has worked with some big powerful breeds, (Not quite as big as Mango, but if you combined my cousins Bones & Fluffy, you gotta be pretty close!) Please feel free to paw me an email if you would want her to come by some day after work next week when she can stand up or on a weekend to observe your routine with Dex and help you find some quick tips and short cuts and great reminders for keeping consistent and patient! You can check out her website at www(dot)bedsandbiscuits(dot)net.

chicamom85 said...

I am really enjoying this. I have to admit I love a dopey dog so Mango is for me although I know I would love them both. Anne

Mango and Dexter, it sounds like you are getting quite a workout. Are you getting enough treats?

licks and sniffs, Sasha

Woodrow, Sweetie, MJ Campanella said...

ya know mango man - your momma keeps saying these bad things about you - they all cant be true - you need to try and prove her wrong - i can be a bad doggie on walks sometimes just until i know mommy has had enough and then i m perfect again.

maybe you can try that push the limits but only to a point


chicamom85 said...

Mango I am sorry for my Mom, she didn't mean to say that you are dopey, she meant that you are a handsome stately looking fellow.

licks and sniffs, Sasha

p.s. They are both beautiful dogs

Eric said...

Mango Momma, sounds like it's going well. Mom walked my cousin,a big lab/retriever at the weekend, nearly had her over when he suddenly pulled. Golly gosh can't even begin to think how it would be to walk Mango..

Wiry wags Eric xxx