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About susanmann

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  1. A few thoughts: First of all, how long is he outside by himself? Why? Many people think that dogs will exercise themselves if left outside but that rarely happens. Dogs are pack animals, and you are their pack- of course they bark if separated! If he's not housebroken, get a crate and get the job done. You also mention daily walks- how long? any off-leash playing and running(fetch, tug, in the woods, with other dogs) or is this simply a walk around the neighborhood or a park? BCs need a lot of exercise- mine usually gets 1 1/2 hours a day of off-leash play, exercise, and training. With regards to training- are you doing anything like agility, herding, tricks, obedience? These dogs need the mental exercise as well as the physical or they often start going neurotic. Hope this is helpful!
  2. There are some great suggstions here! For some additional advice on training using positive methods, check out clickersolutions.com, whether you want to use the word Yes, or a clicker doesn't really matter. For Down, I discovered that capturing the behavior worked really well for me. When Brodie did a down on his own, I clicked him to let him know this was a good thing and makes other good things happen (treats, play) and got a fast down before putting the word Down into it (and I also use a signal of arm raised- dogs learn signals even faster than words). Now he knows Down as a fast drop, wherever he is, and stays in that position while arm is raised, or if I give a stay command/signal. We never went through Down as a slow, I'll get there eventually mom, command because by the time he knew what the word meant, he already was enthusiastic about dropping quickly. This is operant learning theory, and it really works! With stay, whether or not you use a command or not, why not treat dinnertime as a time to train and reinforce the behaviour you want? Make the dog stay while waiting for dinner, and he gets a powerful reinforcement in the form of dinner. Caution- this does require patience and consitency on your part! Lots of luck!
  3. carol bejamin's book Dog Tricks is good, unfortunately, not clicker. I went looking for info on this a few months ago, and found some tricks on some of the clicker sites and also some of the breed sites (I think it was the aussie site that had clicker tricks)- BUT I have found it best to just figure what I want and then shape or capture what I want and put it on cue. If you haven't yet taught your dog to target (to hand or target stick) this would be a good first step, as you can then use this to teach other tricks. Hope this helps! Susan (Pepper, Scout, and Brodie the Border Beast)
  4. I absolutely agree that heeling is not a natural activity- it is also a very precise activity, and therefore needs a training method that is very precise. Using leash pops tells the dog that it is doing something wrong- but doesn't really communicate well what the dog IS supposed to do. Using food and praise when the dog is in the correct position is a great idea, but is hard to time correctly and consistently. All this is leading up to the fact that I think clicker training is the best way to go for precise behaviours (see me ducking!). The basic idea is (once the dog understands what the clicker is!) that the clicker marks the exact behaviour you want, and you progressively shape the correct behaviour- and for each click, the dog gets a reward. For something as stressful and confusing as heeling initially is, this means a lot of click and reward, which is then phased out once the dog understands the behaviour. This is not a quick fix! My suggestion would be to lurk on some of the clicker sites for a couple weeks, check out the sites and training tips, and see if this is a training philosphy you can embrace. If it is, many people are doing it without benefit of structured classes, but if you can find one in your area- great! The following sites may be helpful to anyone wanting more information about clicker training: clickersolutions.com clickertraining.com click-I.com karenpryor.com Hope this helps someone! Susan
  5. Bill- One thing that I think a lot of clicker people forget is that a clicker is just a teaching tool- not something you have to have glued to your fingers every moment you're with your dog (I know plenty of people like that!) Actually, you SHOULDN'T notice when dogs are trained properly, because they'll only have the clicker with them when they are doing a training session, or in the early stages of learning something. And it shouldn't matter whether you have a clicker or treats with you, unless the behaviour is very new. I agree with you 100%- I want my dogs coming to me because they want to come to me and respect me, and the same goes for downing, staying, etc. One other thing that I think clicker training does well is teach people to look for what the dog is doing right and gets rid of the constant correction cycle that new dog owners often get into. Good discussion, and I think its good to bring out the issues behind it, rather than just a discussion of some techniques!
  6. All right- I decided I had to reply to your posting, Bill- partly 'cause I know I'll keep it friendly and I really like the tone these boards keep. So, to address a few items: One example of a well-trained "classically" trained dog vs a poorly trained "clicker" dog is not a true test. I can think of plenty of both well trained and poorly trained dogs from both methods. Keep in mind that different people apply clicker methodology differently. I'm with you completely in making sure my dogs respect me. Clickers work great for teaching complex behaviours (weave poles, contact zones, etc). They also work great for teaching basic behaviours like come and stay- but once the dog knows the behaviour, he (all my dogs are males!) is expected to comply with or without a positive reinforcer- and will get a leash pop or Annnhh if not. I watched one basic obedience class that uses clicker training- with all dogs, many breeds, they did off leash recalls with the teacher petting and giving the dog treats while the handler called the dog from the other side of the class- ALL the dogs came running to the handler when called. When I took my dog through class years ago (pre-clicker) my dog was one of only a handful of dogs that had a good recall. I was initially very leery of clicker training as well, and it took me a while to realize that it is not merely "reducing obedience to a transaction"- it is giving the dog the opportunity to learn by trial and error, with the clicker as a tool to say "YES- that, at that exact moment, was the behaviour I want! What a great dog!" Please take this in the spirit it is meant- as a friendly exchange of differing opinions, with hopefully some light shed on this topic. There are certainly people out there who don't train their dogs well due to poor understanding of the species as well as themselves- and it doesn't matter what kind of training they use! On the whole, I have seen fewer poorly trained clicker dogs than I have non-clicker trained dogs, though this may just be a bias in that people who clicker train, are for the most part actively engaged in training, vs so many dog owners who completely neglect this- and that in itself is a good thing. Sorry if I rambled!
  7. 13 weeks is definitely NOT too young. See if you can find a puppy class in your area- especially if you can find one that uses clicker training! If you can't find a puppy class, find a trainer willing to let you come to class and take some time outs if necessary. Read the clicker training thread.
  8. Clicker training seems ideal for BCs- but keep in mind I'm a novice at both. I have 2 older dogs that I trained fairly well, including agility, but when I got my BC, the rescue group and my agility group were switching over to clicker. Brodie is now 14 months old, has been doing agility since he was 7 or 8 months old and now has fabulous contacts at speed, good enthusiasm, and does great sequences (8-10 obstacles in a row)- all trained via clicker. I've also done most, though not all, of his other training via clicker. How much of the difference in results (compared to my other dogs) is the fact he is a BC and how much the clicker training? I have NO IDEA! There are some great books out there to get started, also some good web sites (I can't remember names but type "Karen Pryor" or dogs and clicker into a search and see what you find). For general concept and to get your thinking adjusted from traditional methods (I had to read it several times) you should definitely read Don't Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor- but don't expect any step by step instructions. Also by KP with instructions is a small booklet A Dog and a Dolphin 2.0. A clicker is just a way to tell the dog exactly what you liked about the behaviour. The click gets associated with a positive reward- but at least with my BC (and a few I know from class) you need to change the reward more frequently than with most dogs. Most people use treats (small, soft, REALLY GOOD)- i use treats less often, and several different toys, usually to tug, and change them up frequently- he never knows what he's going to get next. I taught Brodie to do a roll over in about 10 minutes of clicker training, just by clicking successively closer behaviour (down, down & on one hip, down & sprawled, down & sprawled & flip over as I moved). The light just went on that that was the behaviour- we then worked on speed, and now he practically does it in the air. One key that some people forget it to jackpot when the dog first really "gets it" or does something really well- then quit.
  9. Happy New Year! Should be a great one with a BC pup. Take it easy, but 9 months is a pretty good age to start. Make sure wherever you go to train has an emphasis on safety and going slowly for puppies. Learning tunnels, low contacts, and low jumps is fine- biggest problem for hips is learning the weave poles- that's a lot of flexing. Work on attitude (fun) and the rest can come later. One thing I recommend is taking the dog to the park where he can get on some playground equipment- nothing formal, just fun, learning to go up and down and not be freaked by things moving underneath her (sway bridges, small ramps, and tunnels). Another great thing is going on narrow walkways e.g start with a low wall or bench, work up to bleachers (wooden). Good luck!
  10. Agility is a lot of fun- and part of the fun is being with a group of other people and dogs who are having some of the same challenges and joys. Find a club or school if you can- but there are things you can do to get your dog started before you start formal classes. I highly recommend reading some of the books and websites out there. In addition to the agility sites, check out sites on clicker training, especially if that is how your club will be training. Work on having your dog really happy to go into a fast down- you don't want your dog to have problems on the table (one obstacle is a table that they jump on, go into a down on and stay for a count of 5). basic obedience stuff? yeah- just make sure it stays fun. One thing I enjoyed doing with my dogs was taking them to the playground and getting them used to all sorts of tunnels, ramps, sway bridges, etc. It isn't all a direct translation to formal agility, but having learned that going up on things is fun, that things might move but that's ok, that going into a tunnel might mean a ball toss once out, can translate into great attitude and increased confidence once you start classes.
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