Monday, April 22, 2013

Project Stay: Duration Check-in

Rip and I are now on day 5 of Duration stay work.  I must admit that I've only made my goal of twice-a-day training sessions one day so far.  But I have been working on stays every day, which is progress!

I've been increasing at 30 second increments each session - expect for 2 sessions at 2 minutes long.  He broke at around 1.5 minutes the first time we did 2 minutes, so we did not add time for the next session.  I'm not adding time unless he's successful.

We are now up to 3 minute stays in both the down and the sit.

What I've noticed:
  • I need to stay a bit closer to him than I thought I would.  Most of the time I'm 3' to 4' away.  I can tell he's just learning what I want (stay in the same position, in the same place), so I find staying closer to him seems to make him more sure of what he's doing.
  • Watching him closely pays off.  This way I can tell if he's making little shifts that might lead to a break in position.  When I see this, I step a little closer in to give him support.  I'm not rushing in to correct him (which would make him even more confused) - it's just a quiet step in his direction, reinforcing the position.

Something I'm trying with Rip that I didn't do with my other dogs is differentiating his downs.

For the downs needed in the non-stay exercises, I've trained Rip to do a quick "sphinx" down -- folding back into the down position.  For stays I'm training him the command "hip" (I'm saying this instead of down) and asking him to rest on his left hip in the down.

Why am I doing this?  First, this is the sort of down my dogs tend to do when they're resting on their own, so I'm assuming it's more comfortable for a longer period of time.  Second, I want him to know that with the "hip" type of down, he's going to be there for a while.  With the "down" down, I'm likely to ask him to do something else pretty quickly (e.g., recall, stand, sit).

I'm not sure if it will work, but it's something I've been considering for a while, so Rip gets to be my test dog ;)

Rip demonstrates the "hip" down 
that we're using for our stays

Compared to

The "down" (aka sphinx) down
that we use for the other exercises

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Project Stay - Yes, I'm Finally Training the Wild Dog to Stay...

Stay is boring!  Rip likes to run!

Ok, I'm a little ashamed that I have a nearly-3-year-old dog who really does not  understand the concept of "Stay."  Since I want to get Rip into the Rally & Obedience rings in the near future, this is a *bit* of a problem.

So, finally, I've decided to really work on "Stay" with Rip.

Coincidently last week I was in a managerial effectiveness class, and we had to work with another person and coach them through developing a plan to tackle a non-work project.  I chose to think through training the stay.  After helping me through the plan, my work colleague said, "and that is why I don't train my dogs."  Fair enough.

The goal:
At the end of Project Stay Rip will be able to hold a 5 minute sit stay and a 7 minute down stay in "public" with me 40' away.

The plan:
Take on the 3 "D's" of the Stay.  Duration, Distraction & Distance.  I've chosen to break it down this way based on what I learned from a Laura Romanik seminar I attended a couple years ago.

I'm taking on Duration first:

  • This work will be done at home, or outside in our yard - places that Rip is really comfortable with.
  • We will start with 1 minute sit and 1 minute down.
  • We will work up to 7 minutes in sit, and 7 minutes in down.
  • I will stay within 6' of Rip at all times.
  • Plan to work on duration for 7-10 days.  2 sessions per day.

Next is Distraction:
  • I'm breaking distraction down into "new places" and "what is mom doing?"
  • Rip and I will go to at least 4 new places to work on stays.  The distraction part is all the new stuff that will be going on around us.
  • We'll also work with distractions at home.  I'll introduce new things and use things that normally distract Rip to test his resolve.  We'll do at least 9 sessions of these "what is mom doing" distractions.
  • All distraction work will be on leash, with me no more than 6' away from Rip.
  • Plan to work on distraction for 7-10 days.  2 sessions per day.

Then we'll get to Distance
  • Work will be done mainly at home, and at the club building where we normally train.
  • Work at home will be off-leash.  Work away from home will be on-leash.
  • Every session I'll move 1-2' feet further away.
  • Goal is to be able to do out-of-sight stays at home.
  • I'll work on distance for 7-10 days.  2 sessions per day.

Finally, we'll put it all together:
  • In reality, this will continue as long as Rip is doing obedience, but we'll continue the stay focus for a final 7 days.
  • We'll go to 4 new places and work on distance (on a long line).  
  • The goal here is to get 50' away from Rip, and be able to hold the sit stay for 5 minutes, and the down stay for 7 minutes.

To keep myself honest, I'll post quick updates on the blog at least twice a week, and a summary of each phase as we graduate to the next.
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