Category Archives: Teaching Tricks

NEW Video On Walking Off-Leash

Made this video today, starring my new Poodle, on how to walk off-leash.

So many dogs hear the click of the leash as a cue to burst off running and completely disconnect with their human. Here are some ideas of what you can do to prevent this kind of behavior from ever forming. The leash coming off doesn’t mean they can head for the hills!

WE walk our dogs – not the leash. So taking off the leash is just that. Not a command for them to leave your side.

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Filed under Dogs, Teaching Tricks, Video Discussion

New Video!

Woops!

I haven’t posted this video yet?! This was filmed earlier this week – mowgli and the rest of the pack!

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Filed under Dogs, Inspiration and Idols, Teaching Tricks, Video Discussion

No, YOU find the answer!

I’ve been playing around with my new poodle (I am training him to be a guide dog for the blind) and seeing how I can cause him to figure things out on his own.

He has been with me for about three weeks and has learned so much, so fast and so well… that he is coming up close to my dogs that have been with me for a few months. This is thanks to allowing him to figure things out “on his own”. I’m just there to confirm his decisions.

He’s learned so many things, but one that was really amazing was his ability to figure out the concepts of going left and right when I ask him to. This usually takes a little bit of time for a dog to learn and do correctly regularly. In the past, I was able to teach most of my dogs the commands left and right fairly fast, but it might have to be followed through with a tap from the leash as support. So they would learn it soon, but need support for a while until they just did it on there own every time.

With my poodle, it’s been the opposite. Just a little bit of well-timed support in the beginning and he learned it very fast. So we would stand somewhere and I’d ask him to go left (purely vocal, no body language). He would think for a second and then sort of look to the left. I’d say, “Yeah, yeah, yes… Yep!” Like a game of hotter or colder. The more he turned his head and then his body, the more I would agree with that decision. Just him turning his head was correct and then hearing that very affirmative voice from me, he knew he was on the right track and went left.

He picked it up within two days. This applies with all animals under any circumstance. It’s all about rewarding or correcting that thought right as it surfaces or maybe even before it surfaces if we can catch it then…

My poodle guiding my along the street. Photo credit: Humanima

My poodle guiding my along the street.
Photo credit: Humanima

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Filed under Dogs, Guide Dogs for the Blind, Human & Animal Interactions, Teaching Tricks

This Isn’t Normal!

For a brain surgeon, a brain surgery is a common occurrence. For us, it’s… a miracle.

As we progress through different levels with an animal (or life in general), things start to become “normal”. First, even owning a horse or dog is a miracleHow is this even happening? Then we start working on something, then we figure it out, can do it with ease, and it’s on to the next thing.

But someone who sees you do something that is simple in your eyes, might be blown away. Maybe a trick you taught your animal, a dressage maneuver, and so on. Perhaps even the fact that you’re horse isn’t freaking out, aggressive or your dog is being polite and not trying to kill you could impress them!

You teach your horse to spin. For a while it is simply amazing and you’re so proud. After a while you just do it and don’t really think twice about how long it took you to teach and how amazing it is. It just… is.

Sometimes we can get so caught up in all the stuff that doesn’t seem to be working and you feel as if you’re not getting ahead. But look at where you are! You’re riding a horse. A predator. How insane is that? It seems normal, but it’s not – it screams against everything that is wired in our brain as well as the horse’s. Or, you are working with your dog and just the fact that you are communicating with another animal is mind blowing.

When I stop myself to remember to take nothing for granted, I am astounded by the little things. That’s a mind set I am trying to adopt more and more. How grateful can I be for the “little” things, all that I have already, and still move forward, forward?

Practicing it, I take lots of little breaks, especially when I feel I am pushing too hard and think about everything I have accomplished with this animal so far – no matter how small. What has improved just the tiniest bit?

Unknown Photographer I own no rights to this photo.

Unknown Photographer
I own no rights to this photo.

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Filed under Behavioral musings, Human & Animal Interactions, Humans, Inspiration and Idols, Teaching Tricks

The Alphabet

“A boy is a long time before he knows his alphabet, longer still before he has learned to spell, and perhaps several years before he can read clearly; and yet there are people who, as soon as they get on a young horse, entirely undressed and untaught, fancy that by beating and spurring they will make him a dressed horse in one day only. I would fain ask such stupid people whether by beating a boy, they would teach him to read without first showing him the alphabet? They would beat him to death before they would make him read.”

 Duke of Newcastle.

Unknown Photographer I own no rights to this Photo.

Unknown Photographer
I own no rights to this Photo.

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Filed under Horses, Quotes, Teaching Tricks

The Gardening Dog

Mowgli, my dog, and my boyfriend were gardening today…

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New Dog Videos!

I got out the camera today and made a couple of videos.

In the first one I’m explaining how I view dog walking and give a few tips. I hope this gives you a few new ideas!

This second one was just for fun. I was playing around with the dogs, trying to have them take the treats carefully. I always think it’s hilarious to watch the differences in the dogs  personalities and how their breed causes them to act differently in the same situation.

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Learning From The Group

I have seen both horses and dogs learn a behavior by watching another of their kind with a human.

One time I was at the ranch teaching a horse to stand on a pedestal on command, and there was this one mustang who always stood at the fence and watched us. Every day I would work with this horse and the mustang would watch without ever looking away. A while later we let the mustang into the arena to run around and roll. First thing she did? Yup! Stood on the pedestal and looked at me without ever having learned it before.

Naturally, they can learn bad behaviors, too. A dog who has always been well behaved could start barking just because she has been hanging out with a dog who barks a lot. Or start chasing rabbits…

This group learning can be a great time saver when it comes to training. You have a couple of animals that know the rules, know how to do something, and all of the new ones will learn from them! For example, some cowboys and vaqueros will have their horses line up along the corral fence and face outward so that they can easily rope their horse of choice. This was taught to a herd of horses a long time ago, and now they never have to teach it to a horse again!

They just picked it up because the rest of the herd was doing it. So it gets passed on down the line.

Another good example is with my pack. I have a command to tell them to go to their places (a big bed they all pile on to). My dogs know this rule and do a really great job doing it, and now my new dog knows it! I never taught it to him, but he just followed the dogs on to the bed and heard me say the command. After two days, I told him to go to the bed, without any other dogs around, and he turned around and trotted to his spot. How cool is that? No training needed and how practical is that…

Of course learning in groups is how all animals learn anything, but I always find it interesting when they observe another animal and a human and figure something out because of it.

Two of my dogs on their bed. Photo by Humanima

Two of my dogs on their bed.
Photo by Humanima

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Filed under Behavioral musings, Human & Animal Interactions, Teaching Tricks

Take A Break!

I want to remind all of you to take a moment to process and breathe!

In the “animal training world”, we can get these goals in our head, or start comparing ourselves to others, and we just want to train as much as possible. It’s my job to work with animals, so I do it everyday. But, especially with my own animals, my subconscious is always telling me, “You didn’t work enough with him today! You have to keep moving forward!”

Besides the fact that this can be a very frustrating state of mind to be in, I generally don’t move forward when I think like this. The times when I move forward with an animal is, ironically, when I don’t train with them. Giving them time to soak and taking a day off has brought me such amazing results.

I mean it makes sense – a human training everyday (without breaks) won’t have a clear mind to work or perform properly… that’s why we have holidays, vacations, weekends – that sort of thing. Just recently I was teaching a dog something that she didn’t seem to get at all. Even after a week, nope, not getting it. Then she ended up having a bit of diarrhea and I didn’t work with her for a day. The day after that she did everything amazingly! It actually felt like I was working with a new dog. These sort of “unintended” breaks from training always get my animals and I back on track and moving fast.

This is also why I keep sessions, especially when I’m starting or taming horses, very short. I will usually have a short morning and evening session, or just one short one. With this method I’ve accomplished much more than drilling them for multiple hours! I’ve mentioned in previous posts the importance of letting animals “soak” in information – don’t underestimate it!

So don’t be afraid to take a day off. Don’t worry that you’re wasting time or not “getting anywhere”, because there is a lot being processed in not only your animal’s brain, but yours, as well!

Unknown Photographer

Unknown Photographer

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Filed under Behavioral musings, Dogs, Horses, Human & Animal Interactions, mustangs, Teaching Tricks

The Drumming Dog

Today there was so much rain coming down outside, that I stayed home and dusted off some of Mowgli’s (my dog) old tricks. Enjoy! 

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Filed under Dogs, Teaching Tricks