Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My 4th Birthday Party!

Can you believe it? I am four years old. Amazing as it just seems like yesterday I was a tiny pup. Well, maybe not tiny.Anyway, Jenn and Eric once again invited some of my special friends over to celebrate.Jet, Bernie and I welcomed Jet's Aussie boyfriend Joey. My special girlfriend Mona the German Shepherd came too, and Jenn's friend Gloria with her foster puppy. Lots of special human friends came too including Jenn's mom and dad. All the pups got to run around, then we got special bandanas courtesy of Jenn's mom, who makes Jing-A-Ling Dog Bandanas. And then what everyone was waiting for....my cake!! Wow, Jenn made my most special 4th birthday party cake out of carrots and apples, peanut butter, eggs, flour and honey. And it was square too, decorated with cream cheese and biscuits.
It didn't take long for all the dogs to eat their pieces of cake!
We also did a gift exchange, so everyone could go home with something new and fun. I got a stuffed fox which is especially cool because it is flat and still has squeakers. Jenn says this is a great option for dogs like Jet, who like to pull the stuffing out of toys.
Thanks to everyone for coming to my party!!

Friday, September 2, 2011

CLASS Exercise #1-Wait at the Door

Jenn and I are training for my CLASS Evaluation. CLASS stands for Canine Life and Social Skills and is a new program by the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. The program teaches dogs real life skills through reward based training and is a three level evaluation that also tests the handler's knowledge of training and canine behavior. The first level is the Bachelor's or BA and there are nine test items and two bonuses that dog/handler teams complete. I'm going to talk about each of the test items and how Jenn and I are training and preparing for the test.

Test item number one is Wait at the Door:

Here's the deal, the handler cues the dog to wait at a doorway. The dog can be in a sit, down or standing. The dog holds the wait for about three seconds and then the handler releases the dog to go through the doorway.

How to train Wait at the Door with a sit using minimal cues and minimal effort:

First, make sure your dog's leash is on, so that just in case they break their wait, they don't reward themselves by dashing through the door. You don't necessarily have to use any other rewards in this exercise, as the freedom of going through the doorway is a great reward in itself.

Step 1: Keep the door closed and calmly wait for your dog to sit. Cue them to sit if absolutely necessary, but it's really important that dogs learn the door doesn't open until we sit. If at any point your dog gets up from their sit during the following steps, return to this Step 1.
Step 2: When your dog sits, reach over and touch the doorknob. If they hold their sit, continue to turn the doorknob and slowly open the door. If they stand up or move forward, go back to Step 1.
Step 3: If they hold their sit with the door open, step through the door ahead of them and release them to come through with an "OK".Once your dog is doing all three steps easily, you can begin giving a "Wait" cue as you open the door.

Why is this skill challenging for dogs? Cause it is exciting to go through doors! Controlling the impulse to run through the door is a challenge for many dogs, especially if getting out the door means going on a walk or going for a ride in the car.

Why is it important to teach this skill? Wait at the door can come in handy every time you go through a doorway with your dog. And it keeps your dog safe from dashing out the door. If you have multiple dogs, it is important to teach each dog individually how to wait at doors before you can get them to perform the skill together.

Here are 20 additional uses of teaching your dog to wait. Need I say more?