Getting started with shaping

At the beginning of February, Betsy and I started an online class taught by Sue Ailsby called “Shaping” Shaping is something that I’d heard a lot about, and I knew the general concept of what it entailed, but for some reason hadn’t ever been interested in trying or learning properly. In retrospect, I have no idea why I felt this way, because shaping is a ton of fun! I wasn’t sure how Betsy was going to react to suddenly being

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Three videos showing agility training progress

Betsy and I have been doing Agility since September 2014. It’s my first time training a dog in agility, so we both had a big learning curve 🙂 I try to get videos when I can, just to see our progress and cringe over our mistakes! I thought it might be interesting to share a few videos over the last couple of years to show how we’ve come along – both in Betsy’s understanding as well as my own handling.

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Taking advantage of environmental cues

Hi dog blog readers 😊 I want to talk today about environmental cues, because it’s something I’ve been playing around with a bit recently. First of all, when we talk about cues in dog training, we’re talking about a trigger that results in the dog taking a certain action. Obedience is teaching a dog various cues. The word “Sit” is a cue for the dog to sit. The word “Shake ” is a cue for them to raise up their

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Rewarding Good Choices

I think I touched on this briefly before in Five ways to enrich your dog’s life, where I mentioned teaching your dog to lie down on the floor instead of counter surfing. The principle behind it is instead of asking your dog for a behaviour and then rewarding them when they do it, you need to catch your dog choosing to do something without being asked, and rewarding them for making good choices. A lot of dog training is simply

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Engagement, focus, and asking for work

Betsy and I are currently taking some private classes with Darcie Jennings, and one thing she pointed out to me was that although Betsy and I had a great connection when I asked her for it, Betsy never really offered it on her own. Darcie challenged me to start expecting Betsy to offer more without having me request her attention first. Betsy is all ears when I ask for her attention This was a great observation, and after she made

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Your dog’s name is an awesome word

How tempting is it to say your dog’s name in an angry voice when they’re doing something naughty? So tempting right? They are ignoring you, you’re mad, and you just want to growl out “ROVER! NO!” This is your dog’s name. The last thing you want is for your dog to think its name is a bad thing, or to associate hearing its name with unpleasantness. Your dog’s name is special. It should mean “Hey! Pay attention, I am going

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All the things I wish I had known before I got a puppy

I know a couple people who have recently gotten a puppy, or are considering getting a puppy, or have already signed up for a puppy and are just waiting for it to be old enough to take home. Some have asked me for advice, knowing that I got a puppy about two years ago and have been through it all pretty recently. Advice is hard to dispense, because: Yes, I have raised a puppy recently, but it is the only

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Teaching your dog to roll over

I briefly mentioned my experiences teaching Betsy to roll over when I wrote that post about dogs learning to learn, and I thought I’d follow up with how I did it 😁 The key to teaching this trick is rewarding in increments; you can’t just get them to do the entire roll right off the bat. The steps: Hold a treat to your dog’s nose and lure them to the ground. When they lay down, give them a treat. Yay,

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Fixing training mistakes

Hey remember when I wrote about teaching the touch/hand target? And I said, “never ever let your dog use teeth?” Whelp, here is the story to go along with that. Dog training fact: Whatever you reward your dog for is the behaviour you are going to get. So I accidentally taught my dog that hand targeting = “Hey! Run over to me and bite my hand.” Not hard, mostly just a gentle mouthing, but since I often use hand targeting

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Do dogs get better at learning with practice?

When Betsy was young(er) and I first started teaching her tricks, we both found it quite challenging. I’d spend several days focusing on teaching her a new trick, Betsy would express her frustration on day one, and slowly we’d build up until she had a mental breakthrough and suddenly everything would fall into place. (As soon as Betsy figures out what I want, she gets all excited and performs the trick so joyfully, I swear she’s puffing up with pride

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