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Flashy Friday! Week 2 -  "Spin" Whew! A whole week between posts, sorry guys! Like I've mentioned before we're pr...

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Shake it Up - Unconventional Training

Shake it Up!
Unconventional Training

This move really shook up our routine, however at this point we've figured out a great new way to include training back into our daily lives - and life is finally starting to feel normal again. I'm back in the gym getting in at least two hard workouts a week, my new goal for that is to start working out three to four days a week again instead of just two.

Dante and Ziva are getting at least two running days in when we go to grandma's house, she has fences and grass rather than just burrs, thorny spiked plant life, and poison oak.
And if it's really hot we're hitting the river!

New routines, means new ways to train. Moving to Southern Oregon means we are dealing with heat that we've never had to deal with before. Exercise either must involve swimming or be in the early morning, or when the sun has gone down in the evening - recently though it hasn't been cooling off in the evenings so that's out!  Click the Link to Read More!

Part of our new routine is that training has become a social activity for us.

Training should always be fun, for both you and your pup. By changing your routine and keeping things different you get to essentially test your training skills in different environments. For me personally it's a great success when Dante & Ziva behave the way we have trained in different levels of distracting environments.

Here are some of our new fun locations to train and what I expect from the pups.

Vineyard or Brewery Training - Quiet and polite, lay in the grass and hangout.

Places like vineyards are where Ziva shines! She loves people, it's just certain psycho dog personalities she has challenges with. Dante on the other hand likes to *Boof. Boofing sounds just like the word, and his *Boof tends to scare people because although he is friendly he is a large dog. To work on him being quiet we try to set him up for success by bringing lots of treats and keeping his attention.

After we've settled into our spot, we have the dogs lay down and then reward them for it. When Dante starts getting super alert and looking around we regain his attention by asking him to "Look"  (Teaching "Look" HERE) as soon as he gives solid eye contact he gets a treat. When a particularly loud group is heading our way, we again gain his attention and ask him to, "Look".  Ziva is a champ at this game unless a squirrel is involved, so she has no problem gobbling up treats!

Hiking Challenges - Sit, Stay, Come, Up, Jump, Four On, Two On! Whatever works!

During our hikes the dogs get to practice sits and stays while I snap photo's. Dante and Ziva both find this to be rather boring, but it's good practice - we don't always get to do what we want to do. I make sure to find fun things for them too so don't let those puppy dog eyes fool you! Fallen logs are great for asking them to jump over or climb on top of. Stumps of varying sizes make great practice for perching on small objects, here is Ziva showing four paws on the stump! I just call it "Perch" when I want all four of her paws on something. It's great balance work and every little bit counts when we're trying to tire them out.

Ziva is better at smaller objects than Dante. But we keep practicing with him!
Dante's "Perch" on a large boulder.
Off-leash Work.

Being off-leash is something that is a topic dear to my heart. Unless your dog has a solid recall then they should not be off-leash, and not all dogs are good candidates for being off-leash. Dogs that are runners for example should not be off-leash, you are endangering both your dog and others when you let them loose.

My solid recall girl. We've called her off of cats at a dead run, and more recently a chicken!
Recently while on a hike I came across a homemade sign at a trail head, a lady was asking for help finding two dogs and their owner. Turns out her dog (who was off-leash at the time) ran towards a man getting out of his boat, and his two dogs (also off-leash and were reactive) attacked her dog resulting in an emergency vet trip. She was hoping to find the owner and have him cover the vet bills for her dog.

This situation could have been avoided, if the woman's dog had been on a leash she could have kept him from running into such a dangerous situation. The man who had just returned via boat, could have leashed up his dogs once hitting dry ground.  Granted in boat situations; people often have their dogs loose for safety concerns and issues of drowning.

This issue hits close to home because Ziva who is not "aggressive", is leash reactive and does not like to be approached quickly by strange dogs. Off-leash dogs in particular are terrible triggers for her when she is on leash. All she needs is a polite introduction and we're good! But out hiking or walking on the street we don't always get a polite introduction so giving Ziva plenty of space is what keeps her happy and comfortable around other dogs. I should mention though that Ziva LOVES senior dogs and dogs with calm personalities - it's puppies and crazy high energy personalities that she wants nothing to do with.

River Fun - Off leash work and "Come".

That being said, you have to start somewhere! I like to recommend a 100 foot leash, a clicker and a bag of your favorite training treats to teach recall. Recall Training HERE.

Dante and Ziva both have great recall's. Ziva more so than Dante, is that a girl thing? He is such a BOY!

We found a great spot at the river that is very private, we're always by ourselves and if someone joins us we'll have fair enough warning to leash up the dogs. I always leash up until I have had a chance to assess the situation, if they bring dogs do all the dogs get along? Any behavioral issues to watch out for? How are the humans behaving? Any fear of dogs?

We've left situations before where we were joined by stupid humans and out of control dogs. #BetterSafeThanSorry

When we call, "Come" we want the dogs to associate it with good things. A good game of fetch is always a great reinforcer!

Balanced Training - Positive Reinforcements/Negative Punishments

When we call, "Come", hubby and I are usually holding a toy or a treat. A good recall response to, "Come" results in a toy being thrown, a treat, or some other fun game that the dogs love.

If Dante starts getting tired his, "come" starts slacking - he likes to take his time sniffing things. We try to end our game before he gets to this point. But if I call, "come" and then have to go get him then he goes straight on a leash or I have him lay down for a short time out until I feel like he's ready to listen again. This is considered "Negative Punishment", his behavior causes a good thing to stop (free time). Aside from that, no big deal is made of it. No hitting, kicking, or cussing him out - just a time out to help his brain refocus. If he remains super distracted then he doesn't get any more free time, same goes for Ziva.

Positive Dog Training & Operant Conditioning click the link for more examples!

Thanks for joining us on this months Positive Training Hop!


  1. Great Post! Love that y'all are getting so active again. Not that moving isn't active! :)

  2. Great post. Thank you for the specifics about your training and what you are expecting.

  3. Well it's sure obvious who is having so much fun!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  4. Great blog post! Thank you for the tips. I didn't realize there was such a change in temperatures from where you lived before to where you are now. Oh and awesome pictures as usual

    1. Oh yes! Where we used to live we'd maybe have two or three days of triple digits, here it's normal! Whew!!

  5. What a great list of training achievements. Also, beautiful photos, stunning dogs. Totally worth boring the dogs over.

  6. Recall work is important for sure. We're always working on it. Thanks for joining the hop!


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