A dog training diary for Sonic, my totally awesome street dog from 'the islands', he's a border collie mix from the Dominican Republic, they call them coconut dogs, so many they fall from trees. He needed a home, I wanted a dog. Here we are, teamed up in training agility, freestyle, canine parkour, anything to keep his busy mind out of trouble.
I like to make fun of folks that call themselves dog parents, but,
ack, here I am all excited about Sonic's 1st Christmas. And we took him
to the Tree Farm to help us pick up a tree.
I was hoping for a cheerier shot, but my two guys are taking tree hunting very seriously.
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And hey, OTHER THAN A BORDER COLLIE, what else do you see in him? I
mean, I see an island dog (just google 'coconut hound', imagine him tan
and flat coated and you'll see what I mean), but I will be forever
Sonic was a VERY GOOD DOG at the tree farm, nice leash manners!
I'll get some Christmas pics with the decorated tree (and maybe
decorated he), because this year I am going to be a besotted Dog MOM.
Yes, SONIC, You WILL be forced into wearing red ribbons.
Oops, this should have backdated to October. I am tardy with my training diary.
Oh boy, this past week, where to start.
Jumping over arms, yep, he's doin' it.
Tall (stand on two legs) 'almost' gettin' it on the verbal.
Ditto for Spin (best) and Twist.
This due to me finally learning to stand still, speak 1st, then hand signal, then mark & treat.
Had a really good, right off the start, train/play session in the local
parkette, even with swans nearby (which were slightly distracting to
him, and really distracting to me--trumpeter swans, so beautiful)
Started 'go out's' to a target (a tiny ball on stick), and realized I
was slowing him down with, you guessed it, too much movement. He didn't
want to go out because my body language was ultra
distracting/interesting. Again, me learning to 'stand still' with arms
at sides, in this case, wait for him to touch the ball (still in the
shaping stage), mark & treat. He's learning to move away from me
independent, not looking for visual cues.
re: jumping over arms, and & 'tall', I over did/over-trained on
Friday. He just wasn't all that 'into it' in the afternoon--note to
self, don't be such a 'tiger mom'.
On the practical front, had him off-leash for the whole 90 minutes of a
forest walk without me going nuts, AND he actually played tug &
fetch (with a leather & fur tug-n-treat toy) in the forest. That was
like pulling teeth with coaxing, etc... but a start. A good start.
Lovely to see him free run for such a long time.
He met my in-laws puppy in their 5 acre unfenced yard. Sonic is acting
pure bc in that context, stuck around, zero interest in wandering away,
played a bit with puppy, then ignored, or bugged me, mildly friendly
with folks to aloof once 'hello's' were done.
Cat feeding all good.
Now doing nice leave it's. Practiced with tossing treats (which are
always 'his' as I used tossed treats due to early hand-shy issue
issues), so now teaching some are his (take it. get it), some are not
(leave it) and some are the cats (cat's name). He obviously understands
the concept of name = possession, which is bizarre but seems true, maybe
it's eye contact & body language (with said cat). BUT all this
equaled, once, tossed a treat for him and Simba raced for it, and Sonic
looked at ME (yay, good dog, here's a different treat). Nice choice on
his part. (Simba didn't want it anyway--so Sonic got to have it later)
Off leash: taking him to the dog forest more often as there are less and
less dogs outside now. Lots of dogs on Sunday, and again Tuesday.
Watching him to see how he handles off-lead dogs. With very rare
exception, does not play with dogs--does a polite greeting, sniff and
move on. If the dogs are over bearing, too much energy, will do a fun
imitation of speedy gonzales, but doesn't come back for more except with
less energy, as in, darts away at 100 mph, comes back with less rpm, by
that time, other dog is thinking Whoah, you are too fast for me, and
not much more happens. Sometimes I slow up to join with folks with
dogs, and Sonic will either ignore & move on (greetings done, you
are boring, behaviour), sometimes engage in mutual sniff & pee
session then move on to explore the woods, or just run ahead, or, if I
stand around long enough say, hey, can I earn a treat here? He's just
not all that into dogs.
He's has twice really liked a dog. Once, a female pug, mutual chase,
then he kept trying to entice her to chase game, and circle round to
come and get her (pugs just can't go that fast), and last week a goofy
lab, he actually played some mutual chase and stuck around for peeing
games & more chase. I walked with the owner. But that's it, mostly
neutral, occasionally wary, definitely willing to stick up for himself,
and communicates that with upright body language & look aways (hey,
I'll stick up for myself if I have to, but I'd rather not have to).
This works with any well socialized dog. He will respond to a cheerful
'let's go' if I think tension is building, or it's one of those bully
dogs that will push his buttons instead of letting him move on
un-molested (he does not like contact sports).
Petsmart: will go on Sunday afternoons only. There are actually dogs
there on Sunday, dogs plural, lots of dogs, dogs in store and and dogs
in class, barking puppies. So there's something to work with, and when
there's something to work with, he learns and does well. Even with
surprise dog in face-->he looked at me. Had a conversation with a
lady in the parking lot. She had a gorgeous white shepherd pup who got
bored and lay down. Had him on a loose leash while dogs went in and
out. Worked him on his traffic lead indoors, he's good, getting more
relaxed, interested in treats, not doing any 'training' right now, no
commands etc he's on a leash, looking at just getting him comfy with the
idea that dog over there doesn't equal dog in face, and he's starting
to understand that--ie, he looks at a dog without expecting to have to
deal with it. Take him out in the parking lot for breaks, and play &
train there, and he's playing.
Agility: he's now looking forward to playing frisbee/tug in the parking
lot at the END of his off-lead forest walk! Whoot. So, took along a
pole (to practice wraps) and a mat (in lieu of table) and put all three
things together. He liked it! So another place to train, my yard is
Hope the link works.
This is week 5, was not expecting sequences in the 1st round of class,
but it works. Sonic's not keen on tunnels, yet. (It's one thing I
can't do as homework)
I use lawnchairs as homework, still working on getting him to drive forward (eyes on me is too much of a good thing here)
Anyway, it's big fun.
Home Agility Fun Fact:
Okay, so I put him out on our verandah (our only outdoor enclosed space) and made him watch while I set up his course.
His course consist of 2 lawnchairs (ends up to make posts) as jumps
(broad jumps) and one pole wrapped in a towel (in lieu of cone, to
practice wraps) and a wooden box as table.
By the time I was done dragging this about, he was totally excited, MUCH
more than when I just take him out to play--so I guess he likes
Other stuff: plays frisbee in the parking lot after a walk, so yay! This is becoming a thing.
Taking him to petsmart to get used to being around dogs when leashed-
not so good. Mostly not enough dogs to practice with, BUT I can get him
playing and performing in the parking lot, which is awesome.
Cat feeding time: this used to be mayhem. He would just bark and bounce
and carry on crazy (my husband puts up with this), I avoided it and
would just crate him. Sooooooo, a few weeks ago, decided to make him do a
LONG DOWN, which took some fussing to accomplish. Now, he sees his
mat, plunks himself down with a relaxed eagerness that is good to see
(while I feed the cats, I occassionally drop a cat kibble on the matt,
but now down to 3 times). So, no more crating during cat feeding
time--he can handle this, and his long downs are much better in general.
Erm, that's all, excepting I'm already anticipating pining for agility classes when they are over. It is sooooo much fun....
Cheating my journal, but it fits. Wrote this to a friend: sums things up for the week.
Yesterday, as usual, we took Sonic on a long walk through the woods on
local forest trails. Did a 'leave it' and then played frisbee--hard. A perfect re-direct.
Afterwards, I was ambitious, and set up my impromptu agility practice
which consists of two folding lawnchairs set up with front and back
sections upright to make low broadjumps for the dog. Sonic is great
at sticking by my side like glue, but unless I can run really really
fast and turn on a dime, this is not ideal for agility...so I am
practicing at home at my leisure with whatever equipment I can find.
The purpose of the two jumps is to teach him that moving away from me
and taking the equipment (jumping, in this case) is as or more
lucrative than sticking to my side. I have a throw toy to reward him
at a distance, but first I have to convince him to keep moving forward
even if I don't, and b) skirting around the obstacle produces no
goodies. The class, even though it is an hour long, is too short, to
train all things, and sometimes too distracting. Sonic does like it,
as do the husband and I. Santa may put some real jumps under the tree this
year (the husband can make them from pvc pipes). We had a set of diy pvc
equipment, but gave them away, thinking we would never again have an
'agility dog'. When Sonic runs through the woods, leaping, dodging,
climbing, flying across the jumbled landscape, it is clear that
agility (the dog sport) is not so much about canine athletic ability,
but about the dog and human's ability to communicate and work
together. There is nothing, physically, about the sport that Sonic
can't do (effortlessly) right now--teaching him to do what is asked
and not do what is not asked, and to do everything as fast as chasing
squirrels and have as much fun doing it--well, that is the task and