Thursday, 20 May 2010

dog training for fun and for dancing

At last, after three weeks at home because Penny had kennel cough, we were able to go to training with Cindy at Lilydale. We had a lovely evening last night, playing with the agility equipment and doing some obedience and some tricks.

I was proud to show Cindy that Penny can now do a 'spin' on a verbal command, with no hand movement. However, in the class we needed Penny to do a turn in the opposite direction (clockwise), so Cindy reminded me that the command we've used in the past is 'twist'.

We haven't tried 'twist' for ages, because I wanted to fix 'spin' quite firmly in Penny's mind. She's been trained with hand signals for nearly six years, but at the Richard Curtis seminar we learned that it's better to have verbal cues so the human part of a canine freestyle duo can be doing something with her own arms and hands rather than standing around like a statue making hand signals to the dog.

So, here's our start to introducing a clockwise turn with a verbal cue. At this stage there is still a hand signal but even in this session I was able to make it smaller.

11 comments:

Two Pitties in the City said...

I didn't know anything about dog dancing before...but it is kind of amazing.

Slavenka said...

Penny is really dobra cura ;)

Honey the Great Dane said...

Oh, I've been doing similar practice with Honey too ever since the Richard Curtis camp! It's been great as I have always had to rely on really heavy hand signals to get Honey to spin & twist and even though I could cover them up as "dance moves" it was still a pain - whereas now, she's getting really good at just spinning & twisting on verbal command. I've also been trying out some of our other moves just on verbal command, without all the hand signals that we tend to become overly-reliant on...like the weaves.

Great video!!

Hsin-Yi

parlance said...

Oh, Slavenka, thank God for the Google translator. I was wondering what Penny was, lol. So, she's a 'good girl'. Thank you!!

parlance said...

Two Pitties, I reckon your two would love it! Dog dancing is as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. There are heaps of people putting 'how tos' on YouTube.

We mainly have fun in the kitchen. It's great for cold or hot days, or wet days, or in fact any day when you need to salve your conscience because you aren't going out for a long enough walk.

parlance said...

Hsin-Yi, are you getting the problem we have, that Honey offers one particular movement for any verbal command, instead of actually listening to the word?

I'm going to come over to your blog to ask you, in case you don't come back here.

parlance said...

Hsin-Yi, are you getting the problem we have, that Honey offers one particular movement for any verbal command, instead of actually listening to the word?

I'm going to come over to your blog to ask you, in case you don't come back here.

Honey the Great Dane said...

Oh, thanks for pointing out your question to me - I don't normally return to posts I've read so I would never have seen it! :-)

Actually, I have to say Honey is quite good - she does keep offering her "favourite" trick a lot but it's not because she doesn't understand the word - it's just that she would prefer to do that trick instead!

I am quite strict & consistent about each word only applying to a specific action - therefore if I say "twist" (no hand signal) and she gives me a spin - I just don't reward her - I actually say "No" in a gentle tone and then ask for the twist again - until she gets it right - then lots of fuss & treat. So if you never reward unless the dog does the specific thing you asked for, there is less incentive for them to try other things (unless they're really confused in which case you need to go back to practising more with hand signals + verbals together).

I actually have the opposite problem with Honey - she responds very poorly to hand signals and seems to respond much better to verbal cues. In a recent class at the Brisbane RSPCA training centre, we really struggled coz they wanted us to do everything with only hand signals and no verbals - and Honey just kept blanking the hand signals! :-)

Honey the Great Dane said...

Actually, I'm very verbose as a person (you can probably tell - ha! ha!) and so Honey has always been trained more with words than hand signals...she has a HUGE vocabulary with commands that differ only in subtle nuance - for example, when we go out off-leash in the park, I use "Come" when I want her to come right up to me, "This way" with a hand signal waving when I want her to veer in the direction I'm pointing but not necessarily come to my side (eg. come away from the water and walk closer to the path), "Come on" to mean hurry up, keep up and I also use her name in a drawn out fashion, "Hooooooooney" - whenever she is too far away or out of sight and I want her to come and find me - but again, not necessarily come right up to me and "Out" which means to stay within a certain boundary, depending on the 'lines' she can see. For example, if we're on a path and she steps onto the grass next to it - if I say "Out" - she will step back onto the path and remain on the path. We also have "Heel" which means she has to come and walk by my left side and ignore everything else - and then there is "Close" which means she can walk on any side but stay in a radius roughly about 2 metres around me, ie. don't go too far away...and these are just the commands I used for off-leash walks!!! ;-) It does mean that I have very fine control of her all the time and can direct her any way I want and keep her out of things or away from things - very handy.

I didn't consciously train them (other than Heel, Come and Close) - but I'm very consistent in the words I use to communicate with Honey - it's almost like I create a language that I use with her which is made up of only words she knows that are consistently linked to things. I don't tend to talk in long sentences or phrases to her like people do - I only use specific words always associated with certain actions - so she seems to quickly pick up verbal cues for things. I treat it like talking to a foreigner with very poor English - you know, you can only use the few words they know to get your meaning across - it's pointless using words they haven't learnt - whereas people tend to talk in whole sentences to their dogs and expect their dogs to decipher it all.

So for example, if she is barking, I say, "Honey - no more - (and then when she stops) - good girl!"

When I want to stop a game of tug, I say "Give (so she releases the toy) - No more (to signal end of the game and put the toy away) - Good girl"

If I'm giving her a special treat (eg. ice cream)- when it is finished, I say "No more!" and walk away.

- so for Honey, "No more" is always used to signify the end of something.

I find from watching people that the problem is they are not very consistent with the words they use with their dogs. You really have to imagine it almost like a separate language where you can ONLY speak using these words - and nothing else. You have to somehow express what you want but only using the words the dog knows - just like you would with an alien who only knew a few words of English. Of course, you can keep adding to the language by teaching your dog more words, so they build up their own 'vocabulary'.

Of course, I do sometimes speak "normally" to Honey but that is just babble - when I really need her to understand and do something, I always revert to the 'vocabulary' she knows.

Hsin-Yi

Honey the Great Dane said...

Oh - thanks for telling me about the Blogger profile setting! I'd totally forgotten! I will go and change it now...

Hsin-Yi

parlance said...

Hsin-YI, I'm coming over to your blog to comment on what you've said. Thanks for all the help!