Basic Training

I can be kind of absent-minded. So although when I was planning yesterday’s post talking about getting back to basics I had really intended to shoot some short videos for visual aids, as usual I hadn’t checked the camera battery and it died about ten steps out the door. But this morning (note: this morning, not yesterday when I got back from my walk – told you I was absent-minded!) I remembered to throw the battery in the charger when I was out running some errands so I could do it on today’s walk. Don’t worry, none of these are more than 20 seconds or so long.

These are in chronological order, and what I like is that I, at least, can see a progression in their responses even on this one walk. For instance, in the first video they get a verbal marker (yes!) at even a glance in the right direction, before they have actually started moving in the right direction.

That will change later, they’ll start moving without waiting for me to mark the glance. And this, while technically correct, is a pretty lackadaisical whoa ‘n’ go:

While this, later in the walk, is pretty sharp on Maisy’s part. I like that she looks back while holding her position.

Here’s a nice line out… Again, I especially like how Squash looks back for direction without moving (always a challenge when The Boy gets bored of waiting). When they are walked individually, neither one of them lines out worth a hoot:

Here’s another “mark for glancing in the right direction” moment. And yes, that’s in the middle of the block – I’m trying very hard to not be predictable so they really learn to listen to commands rather than acting out of habit.

Here’s a decent Haw from Squashie… I thought this would be easy, because the way that intersection is set up going left is really the most intuitive thing to do. Unfortunately for me there was someone walking down the sidewalk to our right and my social butterfly, Maisy, was distracted.

This is much later in the walk, with a Gee and Haw strung together.  This was towards the end and Squash was losing interest in everything but being silly for a few minutes, which is why I’m mainly talking to Maisy here:

And here’s a lovely double Gee and Haw strung together. We are almost home at this point. Funny, we never got more than 4 blocks away from the house and we were out for maybe 45 minutes. The neighbors must think I’m a bit slow-witted.

And finally… the last turn on the way home… Squash makes me laugh.


A bit of final discussion… I actually took about 25-30 short videos. Basically I shot video at every single intersection, and while watching them all to find the ones that were most illustrative of what I was trying to demonstrate wasn’t the funnest thing I’ve done in my life, it was extremely informative in helping me realize some important things about how I’m communicating with my dogs. It really helped me see how they are affected by things like my tone of voice, how confidently I give the commands, how quickly I verbally mark success, the distance to the intersection when I give the command (I need to give the Gee/Haw commands a bit further away than I have been, I think). Maybe most importantly, I noticed more than one occasion when I totally missed that initial glance from one or both dogs in the correct direction, failed to mark it, and they ended up milling around in confusion as a result. (In fact, if you re-watch the second to the last video, the Double Gee Haw, I miss a glance from poor Maisy). So this will hopefully make me a better trainer moving forward and I highly recommend taping walks and runs to any other mush babies out there reading this.

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