Tuesday, 16 April 2013

P!nk, confidence, mistakes and dog training!

Last night was something of a revelation for me, a real lightbulb moment. And yes, I was at a P!nk concert, the atmosphere and stage show/dancers/acrobats were amazing. 

Yet the part that is still resonating in my heart was when P!nk went ahead and played piano live (second time ever on a tour). She was good. And she messed up a little, in public, yet laughed and carried on.

Relevance to dog training?! Well, I think its pretty darn important that we don't expect perfection from ourselves or our canine companions EVEN after lots of hard work and practice. 

Mistakes are a natural part of learning, its about having the confidence and resilience to carry on without panicking that counts!

P!nk shows us how to make mistakes with style!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

A day in the life of a collie in training!

Well Connected Canine is very lucky to have as part of our team the amazing Sue Pickering (Paws in Partnership) who offers rehab training alongside our behavioural services, as well as one-to-one sessions and residential stays for some lucky dogs.

One of these fortunate dogs is Pansy (NOT her real name!), a working border collie who ended up with her current owners after an unfortunate start to life. Pansy struggles with over stimulation, obsession with herding, territorial barking and finds social contact with other dogs difficult. Sue sometimes looks after Pansy for a full day to give her owners a break and do some intensive training.

We thought it would be useful to show the kind of schedule that works well for Pansy, and illustrates the importance of scheduled time to relax as well as training sessions.

Pansy's Day With Sue

9am – in car whilst I am at work (crate covered to prevent excessive barking )

10.30 – short walk to relieve herself also chance to get out of car & stretch legs in strange
surroundings, also used the time to practise wait before jumping out of car, loose lead walking to
grassy area, LAT* game with people in the distance. Calm wait before getting back in car.

10.40 – in car whilst I am at work (crate covered to prevent excessive barking )

12.15 – brief (5 mins) training session in Sainsbury’s car park, practising loose lead walking, LAT*
game; sit until released.

12.45 – Walk
1hr including about 15mins off lead in a field with no distractions. When let off the lead initially Pansy laid in front of me looking for ball to be thrown, but was then happy to go off sniffing & generally exploring & doing dog stuff instead, still quite manic, I’d like to see her more able to relax & potter about.
Pansy kept a nice distance, I made sure I noticed & rewarded any automatic check-ins (voluntarily looking back to see where I am) & also called her back to me regularly, I varied the reward, sometimes as she came back fast to me I threw the ball (but not far or fast) other times a quick tug game (literally a few seconds, swop tug for treat & release to do her own thing again) most times I asked her to sit calmly whilst I touched her collar, gave her a treat, then released her to do her own thing again.
A couple of times I also asked her to come back to me, lay by my side & do nothing for about 30seconds before releasing her to do her own thing again. All of this was done whilst quietly and calmly ambling around a field.

The rest of the walk was on lead around very quiet lanes, I had the head collar on Pansy as a precaution against any problems, however I still aimed for loose lead walking. We passed two groups of people (no dogs) one group stopped to talk & ask for directions, they paid no attention to Pansy & she sat patiently next to me. Throughout the time on lead we had no specific direction (apart from obviously getting off the road if a car came!) but worked on walking on a loose lead, sitting & laying down quietly for at least a count of 10 before moving off again. At the end of the walk I made sure Pansy sat & waited by the car until asked to get in.

13.45 – quiet time at home whilst I walked Tali & Merlin (my own dogs).

15.45 – quick trip into garden then practising calmly laying down & ignoring the tv.

16.00 – relaxation with rawhide chew

16.30 – relaxation (laid across my feet whilst I dealt with emails)

18.00 - home time!

*LAT = Look At That game from Control Unleashed by Leslie McDevitt