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Monthly Archives: March 2016

Back Chained Release Cue

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The following are my notes from a ClickerExpo 2016 session by Sarah Owings

Back-chained release cue:

  • All stationary behaviors need SOME release cue (either trained release or cue next behavior)
  • Trained release cue tells dog to move
  • Teach one cue for explosive release (start line, dock diving, retrieve, etc.)
  • Teach another cue for calm release (go say hi, out of crate, through a door, etc.)
  • RELEASE CUES ARE “CLICKS” Only cue release when dog is doing something you like!
  • Zen Bowl Steps (calm release)
    • Put food in bowl, say release cue, THEN move bowl down to make food available in a way that the pup has to move to get the food. Repeat till pup anticipates moving when cue is heard. *** Cue THEN move, not simultaneous***
    • Get a brief stationary behavior, then mark that with the release cue then present the bowl.
    • Get some duration, mark with release cue then offer bowl
    • Add bowl/handler movement as a distraction
    • Have dog wait while bowl is placed on the floor
    • Ask dog to work nearby, then release to the bowl.
  • Explosive release:
    • Use a high value moving reward (water from hose, tossed toy, dragged tug, flirt pole, etc.)
    • Restrain pup, say cue, release pup just before you move the reward
    • If possible, have reward farther from pup so he is running before the reward moves
    • Build in stationary behavior/wait so restraint is not needed
  • Go Sniff!
    • Stand with dog on short leash next to mat (scrunched up towel) with good smells on it (odors of food, other dogs, other people, critters, etc.)
    • After eye contact, release to “go sniff” (the mat)
    • Click/reward dog for eye contact with you and use reward to pull dog away from the mat
    • After eye contact, repeat till dog is bored with the mat
    • Ask for a few behaviors before giving “go sniff” cue and toss reward into the towel
    • Repeat in real life environments where dog wants to sniff
  • Uses for go sniff:
    • Teaches on-duty/ off-duty cue
    • Reinforces check ins without nagging
    • Gives dog opportunity to “ask to work” when ready/able
    • Stronger recalls (environment isn’t the forbidden fruit)
    • Allows dog to get info about the environment, dogs, people, critters
    • Can reinforce behavior (premack)
    • Relieves pressure/stress

Training tasks organizer

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Knowing just how many different things I want to train Voodoo, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all.  How will I ensure I am progressing through the check lists for everything and not skipping or missing something important?

So I came up with this system:

3-9-16 training jars sm

I have a pencil cup full of “craft sticks”. On each stick is something I want to work on (& for which I have a training check list). Each day, I’ll pick out some sticks at random and note the next steps for each that will be worked on that day.  Then I’ll put those sticks into the other jar.  This will continue each day till all the sticks are moved to the other cup.  Then the process will be repeated. This will ensure everything gets worked on and I’m working on the next steps in the progression for each thing.

Each of the 42 sticks in the cup in the photo above has a different thing to be worked on, so he has a LOT to learn! But by breaking down each thing into very manageable steps, using a training check list, it should all move along smoothly.

As behaviors are mastered, it can go in a “maintenance” jar. Or if something needs more attention, it might get put back in the original jar, giving it more times “in the rotation”. I think this will work better than the weekly check list I used for Dazzle.


Interesting article re: Hip Dysplasia

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What happens to the pups prior to growth plate closure has a big impact on the development of hip dysplasia. All puppies are BORN with perfect hips but how they develop as the cartilage changes to bone and as they grow can have a big impact. Most of the factors can be controlled by breeders and owners to help increase the proper formation of the joints.

8 little blobs!

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The ultrasound showed an estimated 8 puppies!  This could be the first glimpse of Voodoo!

2-29-16 ultrasound w watermark