Twinks Gets Fit...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Speaking of teaching dogs tricks...

I'm starting a new segment on here called "It's Me or the Dog Tuesday," featuring progress we make as we put to use things we've learned from watching, you guessed it, Victoria Stilwell's show and from her book (which I'll be ordering shortly.) This will come in the form of photos and videos.

Some tricks and training to look forward to:
-Impulse control: "Wait"/"Go Greet" at the door for guests so it's a calmer greeting for all parties. This also prevents door dashing (which Gracie is famous for).
-"Stay" [out of the kitchen]. Keeping the dogs out of the kitchen area and therefore preventing tripping and dog fur all over the floor. I want to also extend this to the upstairs playroom so we don't have to lock them out in the hall since they love to watch us.
-Impulse control: "Leave it"
-Helping our very anxious, stressed out Gracie, who's timid of people she doesn't know, strangers, men, her shadow...particularly with her nervousness around the Hubs. Using positive reinforcement to change her viewpoint of time with him. Then we'll move onto people she doesn't know all that well. I also want to desensitize her to some of her fears, such as thunderstorms.
-Encouraging Budaj not to lick. The strategy is removing attention when he licks. When he doesn't lick, he gets attention.
-Leash training w/ a stroller to prevent pulling and easing walk anxieties. Clicker training intensive.
-Agility training w/ Budaj, in particular. I might try it with Gracie too, but I think Budaj will be a better fit for it. I'm hoping using the part of his brain that is an adventurer will keep him from digging.
-Search and rescue training w/ both. Get them fixed on a scent and teach them to seek it out. This stimulates their minds and gets them some exercise.
-Recall training. Should either dog get loose (or if we go to a dog park where they're off-leash), fine-tuning their response to us calling them.

If you're not familiar with Victoria--it's all positive reinforcement and reward-based. There aren't any quick fix techniques that don't treat the cause of behavior like other methods, though her results can happen remarkably quickly. In these segments, I'll go over the technique and show you our progress. Hopefully this will help other people learn tips and tricks for their own dogs. I know how helpful watching her show has been for us. It's incredibly simple strategies, but a lot of people overthink training (or are actually causing their dog's behavior), and it's reprogrammed my thinking for sure.

To prepare for training, I've purchased:

Mini meaty treats are essential because the dogs can eat them quickly, as opposed to big Milkbones that take forever for them to crunch. Plus Budaj will often take his and run.

Yes, I bought a fanny pack. I'd rather not have a handful of treats and it's just easier to do training. Treats are easily accessible, hands are free. Victoria always has her clients wear them and they seem to be really functional.

Clickers are great for positive reinforcement. First you associate the click with a treat. Then you associate their good behavior with the click, which by extension associates good behavior with a treat. I've tried the clickers they have at pet stores, but these are better because #1 the button is easier to access and clicks faster (preventing confusion at a delayed praise/click), #2 can attach to a key ring wristlet.

The training goals list seems a little staggering, but one success makes it easier to complete the rest.

Wish us luck!


  1. Looking forward to reading about your dog tricks and training and learning some tips to try too I'm sure you will do great! Also looking into the 'teething tablets' you mentioned in Thankful Thursday hopefully this will work!


  2. Thanks, I'm excited to really get going with it!

    Yeah, teething tablets are one of the greatest. things. ever. It's helped Little sooo much.

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