I do not post enough about my dogs. I am doing totally new stuff with Boris method wise. Boris is one of my canine business partners in York Beach Maine. Boris has been benefiting, from motivational training which was inspired by Mike Ellis’s seminar. I find the play and training combination to be very appealing as follows:
- Team orientated (meaning you and the dog are a team) and human with dog interaction. This is different than offering play solely as a reward.
- A tug (or in my case ball) is something you can have on you all the time, and since you are playing with your dog and not giving up the tug until some training has taken place and/or without a long line attached to your dog. So you can control the toy, the dog’s perimeter, and have something easy to take with you in a pocket (ideally) everywhere.
- You are getting training done when your dog is in a high drive state, plus training attention to you (once you get going and start the game out in distracting areas).
- Decreases, with the right dog and the training done right, the need for correction (again read the word decreases).
- You can start out, with the right dog and the training done right, with no corrections whatsoever thus building the high drive to work.
- This sort of training seems to prolong the training time and make it so it can be done spontaneously in multiple situations. I don’t necessarily mean the training time in one stretch (and this will be a topic for another article).
- While I don’t generally worry about whether I have fun while training, it is fun that generally extends your training time. In the seminar, I saw that this can indeed be used to train your dog to a standard, which is very important to me and my work.
I prefer play drive (even prey drive) over food drive. I am not saying that I never use food, but I am saying that I use food very selectively. FYI a similar type game can be done with food cradled in your fingers luring the dog. In this type of method, I have found this helpful if my normally playful puppy is too tired to play with his toy. Boris will rally for food if it is needed. Again, more in the spirit of playing with your dog than reward (or worse bribing) your dog. The play and owner/handler attention is the reward not the food or the toy. Or that is the way I would like to practice it and look at it. Many people forget, however, the ultimate reward of being with and working with their human partner, which I find equally as powerful. Something like this can help you on your way there.
With Boris, he is a very stable, friendly, affectionate, and “slightly” (understatement) crazy for play (or prey) drive based training. He is one, that assuming I do my work, I think to flourish under this method. Due to the hectic schedule I have now (and the fact that I am no longer twenty years old and tire easily) I have not gone as far or have been as consistent as I could have (should have) been with Boris to date. However, I think I have been pleased with the effects of this, and see that we are probably going to be able to go forward into obedience competitions with this. I haven’t exactly figured out how, so we may need to wait until 2012. Fall is “usually” quiet for my business, but it seems to be driving forward like an out of control freight train. I don’t want to rush Boris’s training or myself for this, OR stress either of us out trying to get to a timeline.
Since finding a lasting tug has been a “challenge” with Boris (nicknamed Crazy), I have been doing indoor and outdoor ball games. Because Boris has been trained partially using an electronic collar after using loosely the ideas of KMODT (Koehler Method of Dog Training) and Bedrock Training Method early on, he is not one that is likely to take off in public or private situations. So because of this, I have been able to use a ball or Frisbee without any real fear of loosing him. His innate skill for fetch and retrieve is lending to building this team type of activity.
In order to start to bring the training forward, I have had to consider the progression carefully based on what I see from Boris. I haven’t even written out what I am specifically doing, so I will try to lay it out now. It is not going to sound like rocket science, but realize I have been experimenting with many different ways of doing this on my own. Part of the training knowledge you get from professionals is or should be based on experimentation and what works. When I decide to try a method, equipment or whatever, it is usually based on seeing it actually work for more than one instance. In Mike Ellis’s seminar, I probably saw 20 or more people who work with their dogs that this worked for. Whereas, if I go to a seminar that does not have real life examples on green and accomplished dogs that work (or sometimes these seminars have no working dogs), then I am not likely to pick up and look at that method. There are so many talented trainers out there who can show me things that work, and they will always take top priority.
I am in love with this method (that I am experimenting with), but there are things to consider:
- Many sport competitors that use methods like this limit or minimize the amount of dog socialization and play that their dogs have with other dogs or humans. In my business and the way that I enjoy living with my dogs, I like for them to have an active social life on the beach and at home. Also their job is to be human and canine greeters for the business.
- I have found that I need to balance crazy high drive Boris vs confident chill Boris due to number 1 above.
- Boris can be a little demanding about “play” now LOL. Probably more of a good thing, as it forces me to train more with him.
- Because I am doing a lot of experimentation and not following the usual plan for obedience or obedience competition (and I am hoping to score much better on the next competitions), the training process is going a lot slower than it normally would. I also occasionally worry that I will in the end find this is not the right process for the team of Robin and Boris (but not really too much).
- I see the potential for a well meaning client to not do this well, and create a crazy dog. Course there is always that potential, and usually it has already happened before you met the client . I just think it would be so much fun, that the client would totally not be into the training aspect or what is trying to be accomplished. However, I was pretty sure that no client would ever buy into the technique of “sit on the dog” which Margot Woods came up with, and I was so totally wrong .
So the game begins with Boris and I as follows:
STEP 1: Either I have the ball in hand, or Boris has dropped the ball in my lap.
STEP 2A: If I have the ball in hand, I say “Let’s Go”. Then I follow with “Leave It” (or “Out” if he is hovering above my lap or hand with the ball in his mouth) Let’s go is an informal directional which means come towards me, as opposed to the more formal “front” or “finish”.
STEP 2B: If Boris has instead dropped it into my lap (and I am ready to train), then I say “Leave It” at which point Boris Crazy will back off instead of biting at the ball or my hand (truly he is crazy LOL).
STEP 3: Next the command “Sit” is given.
At the very beginning, the following what would happen, and remember that Boris had already been taught the position of sit, so I do not need to mold, lure, or wait for the offer at this point with this dog.
STEP 4A: At this point the game has begun, and the dog is very excited in a high state of drive (especially if it’s Boris who is totally ball nuts). If the butt goes straight to the ground and the front (in my dog’s case) leg is straight then I say “good”. “Good” is a marker which means praise, but also “continue on as you were”.
STEP 4B: If Boris is scooching backwards or crouching more in a down crouch than a sit crouch (OR ANYTHING THAT LOOKS NOTHING LIKE A SIT LOL), then the “No” marker is given (no marker, means wrong choice, try again). He gets this until he gets back into a sit. He has figured this out each and every time, but if I just could not get a sit (let’s say he had never been taught it) then I would need to back up and decide to mold, lure, continue to wait for an offer, or stop the game. At the beginning of this, you are not supposed to decrease the drive by a correction. Though the withholding of the ball is sort of a correction ). When the sit comes, the “Good” marker is given.
STEP 5: I have the ball now to throw, which Boris’s eyes are most likely glued to. I wait for his eyes to meet mine, even for an instant.
STEP 6: Once Boris’s eyes have made contact with mine, I give the “Yes” marker (yes means good job, now do as you will). Boris now goes scampering after the ball.
STEP 7: (NOTE: Boris happens to have an excellent innate ability and desire to retrieve and fetch) The game goes on until Boris gets tired of bringing the ball back. This can go on for 30 minutes to an hour or more.
We are beyond these steps now, and at a later date, I will document how the game has now evolved:) We play this in the house, in the yard, on the beach, and in parks ET. It is building attention focus on me and a solid sit stay command with enthusiasm. Or that is the plan, anyway…