Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tuesday Training 24

***Before we get to our regularly scheduled training update, we want to make everyone aware that Mango Minster is currently taking place -- Marge's category, Sporty Dogs, is being voted on tonight and tomorrow morning! Go on over and pick your favorite.***

All I really have from this week is the dumbbell work. Walks have been good, I've not been shy about doling out praise and cookies for Marge getting through any difficult patches we may come across (like the strange, distant smoke alarm-like sound that has rang through the air a couple of nights during our walk, or the street sweeper that rolled by us this AM) and we've been having a good time. Louie and I went on an awesome walk this afternoon which featured multiple zoomy bouts! She was having a blast and is enjoying the cold weather.

On to the dumbbell. Some of you expressed that you don't know what it is or what it's used for. Well, all I can really tell you about it is that it's a part of obedience competition at the Open Level (the 2nd level, which comes after Novice). It's exactly what it sounds like - a dumbbell shaped object, which the dog must retrieve on the flat and over a jump. A lot of people start training dumbbell work from a young age as it can be hard to teach depending on the dog. I'm not looking for any CDX title right now, but I figured I'd give that little bit of background for those who don't know.

We've had a few sessions with it -- just some basic shaping. I started out by showing it to Marge and simply clicking/treating her for any interaction she made with it - mouthing it, pawing it, sniffing it. As she got better at playing around with it, I made my criteria more strict, only rewarding her when she used her mouth on it. Then, she only got clicked for picking it up. Then, for holding it. Then, for running out to get it if I tossed it.

A lot of that for Marge is familiar, as I've already done some basic retrieving exercises with her. Marge's biggest trouble occurs with sitting still with the dumbbell in her mouth. She feels she must move around with it.

Here is a snippet of the session we had today. The original video was over 10 minutes long, but it crashed my computer and I had to shorten it.

As you can see, she's doing pretty well with picking it up and even going out to get it. It's a little tougher to get her to sit still with it, but I'm trying. I wanted to focus solely on having her sit with it before moving on to any other part of the training, but because she's finding it so tough, I need to shake it up to keep it interesting and fun for her.

She spaces out a couple of times in the video - it was the height of the afternoon and there was a lot of bustle in the neighborhood, so that explains that.

We'll see where it gets us - I could be going about this completely wrong, but I'm confident that she'll get better at it and maybe we can have a complete behavior (retrieving it and sitting in front) in a couple of months. I'd appreciate tips for those who've trained this in the past.

Sorry I've been absent this week - school has got me absolutely exhausted. I have early morning classes four days of the week, so it's taking my body a little longer to adjust to the new times. I will catch up with everyone tomorrow.


NAK and The Residents of The Khottage Now With Khattledog February 3, 2010 at 12:19 AM  

Enjoy Mango Minster 2010!

It is so much fun!

There are so many pawesome khount test ants!

Thank woo fur sharing Marge's new 'workout'!

PeeEssWoo: We hope your body gets used to the hours soon!

kissa-bull February 3, 2010 at 12:28 AM  

well good luck to you
we are really enjoying this mango minster its our first
could you peemail us your snail mail address , we have a valentine kissy card for you.our peemail is thehoustonpittiepack@yahoo.com
ok pank you
wiggles and pibble sugar
the houston pittie pack

Shadowsky February 3, 2010 at 2:20 AM  

Good luck! I'd like to try training dumbbell retrieves with Jake; probably this summer, when all the snow is gone. In the meantime I look forward to more updates on how Marge is doing with it!

I love her prancing, in the video by the way. It's very lively, and it made me smile. She was obviously having fun.

Dexter February 3, 2010 at 5:54 AM  

Hey Marge! Good luck at the show. I loved your entry photo.

Can you tell my momma where your mom carries that 50 ft. leash she uses. Mine is still waiting to be tried out because she can't figure out the best way to transport it to the running around place.


Sara February 3, 2010 at 6:14 AM  

Oh Marge would be soooo much better at playing basketball than Oreo! She's doing great with the dumbbells. Why do they call them dumbbells anyway? I think I need to google that.

I think noises like fire alarms and sirens are louder and echo more in the winter, because there are no leaves on the trees to buffer the noise.

Chris and Ricky February 3, 2010 at 7:02 AM  

Marge is doing absolutely great with the dumbbell!!! She'll be ready for the formal obedience exercises in no time!

Cyndi and Stumpy February 3, 2010 at 7:11 AM  

Marge is such a pretty girl! It's great to diverify and switch things up.

Diana February 3, 2010 at 7:21 AM  

She is doing really well. Very nice. Diana

Dog_geek February 3, 2010 at 7:24 AM  

Ooh, I should be working on that with B, too. I started over the summer, but then dropped it. You may already have this book (since it sounds like you are doing everything in it already) but THE CLICKED RETRIEVER by Lana Mitchell has a really good step-by-step program for clicker training a dumbell retrieve.

houndstooth February 3, 2010 at 7:47 AM  

We saw you were competing in Mango Minster! Good luck!


Frankie Furter and Ernie February 3, 2010 at 8:50 AM  

Best of Luck in Mango Minster.

KB February 3, 2010 at 9:49 AM  

Can you believe that, in the old methods of training, a dog was taught to 'take' an object by pinching their ear really hard until they took it. Then, the pinch was released - what a reward! In retrospect, it's unbelievable.

As for the 'hold' part, I've used soft objects to teach that part to my dogs and then transferred it to harder objects. I don't use toys (tends to make them want to run around rather than sit and hold it) but I use something like a retrieving dummy (if you know what that is). It's worked well for me.

Now, no funny comments about 'retrieving dummies' - my dogs are retrieving geniuses!

Kathy Mocharnuk February 3, 2010 at 10:12 AM  

Wow look at Marge! Looks like she is doing great. YIKES, it is hard to adjust to new times, especially earlier times, thank heavens we are half way through the week.

SissySees February 3, 2010 at 10:16 AM  

Good luck, Marge! We might have to split votes... I think we have a few friends in that category, but we have more than one computer at home and office, so here a vote, there a vote... ;)

Sue February 3, 2010 at 10:18 AM  

I like when she throws it herself. Tsar does that a lot.

Amy / Layla the Malamute February 3, 2010 at 11:11 AM  

Good luck! We just voted for you.

I started doing dumb bell work with Layla, too. Nevermind the fact that she's light years away from Open. But every single Malamute person I've spoken to said that their dogs would not retrieve so they've had to ear pinch, and I simply won't ear pinch her. So I took advantage of jealousy, started tossing it in the yard for Casey the Lab, and now she thinks it's a pretty special toy. I haven't done any formal fronts or finishes with it, but as long as she brings it back to me, I consider it a good step.

Good luck with school, too. This semester is killing me already myself.

AC February 3, 2010 at 11:36 AM  

Thanks for explaining dumbbell work and for the video. It's fun to see how intent Marge is on getting her treat after you click. Can't wait to see how you two progress.

BRUTUS February 3, 2010 at 12:31 PM  

Looks like you are off to a good start. I need to find a dumbell for Brutus before too long, although bulldogs usually need one to be custom made (longer middle and shorter sides than normal, so it fits in their big flat face). I haven't had much luck with getting him to pick things up, need to get back to work with the clicker for sure!!
Hope you get in the groove with your class schedule soon. Can's say I miss those days (and I had 12 years of 'em!).


Golden Samantha February 3, 2010 at 12:42 PM  

Oh Man! Can't believe how great she does with the dumbell! Sammie just won't go near it amazingly. I've got the other "Open" stuff down, but the dumbell retrieve is critical, as you know! We're working on it, but want to finish up the last CD leg before really focusing on that. Maybe I've just GOT to get into clicker work. Good luck in Mangominster!
Hugs xo

Ruby and Penny February 3, 2010 at 1:18 PM  

Good luck at MangoMinster. We'll vote for Marge.
Love Ruby & Penny

Martha February 3, 2010 at 2:37 PM  

Good luck at Mango Minster Marge. We enjoyed your video - the one bit that appeals to us about all this training is the treats.
You seem to get loads! It doesn't even look as though you have to have the low calorie ones......
love and kisses
Martha & Bailey xxxx

Kari in Alaska February 3, 2010 at 6:03 PM  

Dumbbell training is why Baily and I stopped obedience. She just didn't want to do it

The Army of Four February 3, 2010 at 6:16 PM  

Marge is doing great with the dumbbell! Way to go, both of you!!!
Good luck at Mango Minster!
Tail wags,

Lorenza February 3, 2010 at 11:03 PM  

I love to come and see what you do each day and I can see you did it great with the dumbbell!
Good luck at MM!
Kisses and hugs

Cinnamon and Mint February 4, 2010 at 10:27 PM  

Hi Sam and Marge,

When I saw the term "dumbbell training," at first I thought it was about weightlifting, to tell you the truth :-)

It seems your dummbbell training is going well. I would like to try something like that too.


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