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Postby Tubular Toby » June 29th, 2011, 11:07 pm

I can't believe it took me three years of owning my dog to discover clicker training...

My only problem with my lessons with Kathy Cascade that I was having a hard time wrapping my head around was the two leash control. It seemed that I had to spend a lot of time focusing using them correctly and it was quite cumbersome. I know that I still wasn't using them how she wanted me to and I have no doubt that in her capable hands it's a great method (I've seen it!). However it was taking the fun out of our walks and just like not all training methods suit every dog, I guess they don't suit every person either, because I really didn't care for it. But I love having him in the harness, he is visibly so much more relaxed in it.

While doing laundry tonight, I was reading "The Idiot's Guide to Positive Dog Training" and it stressed over and over that the leash is not a tool, it's a safety net. It finally started to click. The way I was using it up to this point was undoubtedly a tool. And a tool that when it frustrated him, he hit the end of it. I began to wonder if I could really get him to walk on a true loose leash and focus his attention on me (aka... build our relationship), how far it would help go with his reactivity. So I decided to try it.

I hooked his leash up to the harness on top, but just held the end of it instead of looping it through and holding essentially two leashes in different hands. I took my clicker, three kinds of treats mixed up and we headed out. Well, first he had to sit calmly before he could go out. Out the door, I stood and waited for him to look at me. Click and treat. We did a lot of this. If he get too far ahead of me and I could see his butt, I turned and walked the other direction. It took very very little time for him to be walking next to me, glancing up at me. I took the opportunity to click and treat his loose leash walking frequently and also glancing up at me. Within minutes, he was walking like a pro.

Granted this was at night with very few distractions (although we were walking on a well lit campus!) it's still a milestone in our relationship, I think. On the way back home a skateboarder was approaching. This has always sent Toby over the edge, he's not a big fan of wheels. I walked about fifteen/twenty feet away from where he would be passing and put Toby in a sit. He stared up at me adoringly. The skateboarder rolled by, rather noisily, and Toby didn't once look away from me. I really expected him to look, and then ask him to look back at me and start walking away, but he never took his eyes off of mine.

Tomorrow morning is another session with Allen. Hopefully it goes as well as this did!

ETA: If a car is approaching a stop sign rather quickly, even if you are in the crosswalk, it's a great idea to stop and make sure they are going to stop. I noticed this car zooming up and as soon as we got to the street, I started to jog backwards to get Toby to come (this has been a lot of fun for us too!) and whaddya know, that guy BLEW through the stop sign. So glad we didn't start walking.
-Kristen
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Postby TheRedQueen » June 29th, 2011, 11:38 pm

Ahhhh...I love these great updates!

*happy sigh*
"I don't have any idea if my dogs respect me or not, but they're greedy and I have their stuff." -- Patty Ruzzo

"Dogs don't want to control people. They want to control their own lives." --John Bradshaw
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Postby Tubular Toby » June 30th, 2011, 2:32 am

I've been inspired by Liz's blog for a long time and finally decided to go ahead and start my own for Toby/dog stuff. Help me collect all of my thoughts in one place. =)

http://tubular-toby.blogspot.com/
-Kristen
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » June 30th, 2011, 8:35 am

Yay! I'm so glad you're feeling a bit of confidence now that you've found the clicker. It's so great for helping increase a bond between dog and owner. And yay for a blog!!!
"Remember - every time your dog gets somewhere on a tight leash *a fairy dies and it's all your fault.* Think of the fairies." http://www.positivepetzine.com"

http://www.pitbullzen.com
http://inaradog.wordpress.com
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Postby amalie79 » June 30th, 2011, 10:00 am

Using the clicker is like each of you learning a common language. I love it! :) I've been wanting to start a blog about Robin's progress, but I keep getting too busy... Check out Nancy's (Tiva is her username here) blog, too-- vanyaproject.blogspot.com

You might want to "like" Mary at SMART Dogs on Facebook-- she's the woman who gave you Kathy Cascade's info. I know she's too far away from you for regular training sessions, but she does post lots of useful info all the time, and she's starting to host seminars and one-day workshops. Kathy was the first seminar; I think she's about to start some Saturday "focused" workshops, like one day on "drop it" commands, one day on confidence-- she's been soliciting suggestions from her students on what they'd be interested in getting more focused help with...

https://www.facebook.com/SMARTDOGSDogTraining
"In these bodies, we will live; in these bodies we will die.
Where you invest your love, you invest your life." --Marcus Mumford

--Amalie
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Postby Malli » June 30th, 2011, 12:43 pm

yep, the clicker is pretty rad, I have to agree.
I can only please one person per day. Today is not your day, tomorrow doesn't look good either.
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Postby Tubular Toby » June 30th, 2011, 9:51 pm

New blog update! I'll probably just start mostly posting there. Seems to be a lot more efficient!

I will friend SMART Dogs! And I'll also keep up with other blogs. I'm enjoying it. Haha, I even made mine pretty. :dance:
-Kristen
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » June 30th, 2011, 9:53 pm

I posted about your blog on my blog. :)
"Remember - every time your dog gets somewhere on a tight leash *a fairy dies and it's all your fault.* Think of the fairies." http://www.positivepetzine.com"

http://www.pitbullzen.com
http://inaradog.wordpress.com
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Postby Tubular Toby » June 30th, 2011, 10:32 pm

I have no readers yet (that you don't have) or I would post about yours!!! Haha, but I did link yours to mine. =) Thanks so much! (Is that proper blog etiquette? Or should I post about your blog on my blog anyway? Haha!)
-Kristen
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » July 1st, 2011, 7:00 am

lol You're silly - a link is fine. :)
"Remember - every time your dog gets somewhere on a tight leash *a fairy dies and it's all your fault.* Think of the fairies." http://www.positivepetzine.com"

http://www.pitbullzen.com
http://inaradog.wordpress.com
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Postby furever_pit » July 1st, 2011, 10:22 am

I am glad to hear that you and Toby and making such good progress.
I'm gonna go check out your blog now.
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Postby amalie79 » July 1st, 2011, 10:43 am

I have a houseblog that's listed with a blogroll called houseblogs.net ... it was a good way for me to get the blog out there and start exchanging ideas with other bloggers. It looks like there are some similar things for pet blogs. Just a quick google search yielded this one:

http://www.petsblogroll.com/blogs

There are probably some that are even more geared toward training... :)
"In these bodies, we will live; in these bodies we will die.
Where you invest your love, you invest your life." --Marcus Mumford

--Amalie
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Postby Tubular Toby » July 2nd, 2011, 10:46 pm

:dance: Things are still going well with Toby!

Thanks for the blogroll idea! I'll look into it! Now where is your dog blog? ;)
-Kristen
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Postby Tubular Toby » July 25th, 2011, 9:05 pm

Well, all has been going well and been detailed on my blog. Until tonight. We had just finished up a short walk/training and were headed back inside. We walked down our turn and there was a guy from the cafe taking out some trash. Toby immediately started lunging and barking, all of his hair was standing up, and he was not pleased.

Which sucks. He was fine around people on our walk, we did a lot of distance work/LAT. This guy wasn't any closer than the other people today, maybe Toby had just finally reached his breaking point. Still really disconcerting to see him go Mr Hyde on someone again. :(
-Kristen
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Postby amalie79 » July 25th, 2011, 9:15 pm

My first thought is that he may have been surprised by the guy... or even more likely, the guy was carrying something big and unfamiliar. I know Robin doesn't handle people carrying big and/or unfamiliar objects very well AT ALL.

You're gonna have setbacks. Enjoy the progress and keep moving forward. You're doing so well!!
"In these bodies, we will live; in these bodies we will die.
Where you invest your love, you invest your life." --Marcus Mumford

--Amalie
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » July 25th, 2011, 9:22 pm

And what did you do when he did that? I would have backed way off to where Toby could focus on you even the slightest bit and then played LAT. Use these setbacks as training opportunities.
"Remember - every time your dog gets somewhere on a tight leash *a fairy dies and it's all your fault.* Think of the fairies." http://www.positivepetzine.com"

http://www.pitbullzen.com
http://inaradog.wordpress.com
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Postby Tubular Toby » July 25th, 2011, 9:28 pm

You're right, I thought of both of those too.

I do understand set backs, and Toby has been doing really well in general.

I was telling Liz, sometimes I just get so paranoid that Toby won't be ready to move to a larger city in two years. I am moving to go to grad school/start working in a city after I graduate (or so that is the plan now) and Chicago is looking like a very real possibility. Two years seems so far away until I start thinking about only having two years to work on Toby's reactivity... But I have to look at the progress he's made in a month! And once I get a basket muzzle and get him happily accustomed to it, I think that will help ease my mind a little bit.

I was so close to the house and decided that I wasn't in the proper frame of mind to continue training by that point. So we just hurried inside. Not the best, but it beats some of the alternatives! I have used smaller, tiny set backs as training opportunities, but with the location of my house in conjunction with the street/sidewalk and where this guy was going, combined with Toby's level of arousal and my own faltering mood... I decided we were all better off to walk away and call it a day. I wouldn't be surprised if my own mood had helped inadvertently cause it.
-Kristen
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Postby Tubular Toby » July 29th, 2011, 10:29 pm

Yay! I am reading Control Unleashed (FINALLY!!) and played a TRUE "look at that!" game with Toby tonight. He did excellent!!! More details on the blog, but I just wanted to let you guys know that we are back on a roll again. A little bump in the road, but we're over that one. (Now to just accept that there will be more bumps in the road. ;) )
-Kristen
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Postby Tubular Toby » August 14th, 2011, 3:54 pm

I am elated! Toby just cruised past practicing Color Guard, guys carrying and blowing tubas, people strolling across campus, and was a rock star! We did a LOT of look at that and even managed to squeeze in some impulse control work. Toby was amazing! He's been doing so well recently. =D
-Kristen
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http://tubular-toby.blogspot.com/
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Postby hugapitbull » August 14th, 2011, 5:49 pm

Your hard work and persistence is being rewarded. So happy it is falling into place. :dance:
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