Training Schedule Or Outline

Discussion in 'General Dog Training' started by brodys_mom, May 9, 2013.

  1. brody_smom Experienced Member

    I am the kind of person who can learn to do things pretty well on my own if I have a good set of instructions. (I am the one who put together all of our Ikea furniture:LOL:) However, I am not good at flying by the seat of my pants. I like things laid out, step by step. So what I am wondering is, is there, somewhere, a schedule for dog training that "suggests" which behaviors to teach, in what order, and then for daily training sessions, how much time to spend on each behavior, whether it is new or being proofed. I have seen the Book of Training Levels, but this isn't specific enough for me. I need to know things like what a daily training session consists of. Up to now, I have been starting out by cycling through the basics, then moving to some of the newer stuff, but I am not sure if I should start anything else because he is not as quick as I would like him to be in responding to basic commands. I want to keep him challenged, not bored or frustrated. Is there maybe a good book that teaches how to plan training sessions?
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  2. Mutt Experienced Member

    I think it is impossible to make a schedule that applies to everybody, every dog or even every trick/session.

    However maybe this can give you structure :) :

    How you can define the tricks
    - basics (sit/lie down/shake/wait) are handy to teach first as they are easy and therefore get your dog familiar with training/learning and sets him up for succes. They are the ones you will use in daily life and are actually handy to learn (that a dog knows bow is cute, but wait is more important).
    - harder tricks, such as clean up you toys for instance, copcop, bow. These are tricks which don't really need fundaments and can be learned without previous behaviors (the basics don't really count as fundaments).
    - multiple tricks/tricks which need fundaments. These are tricks for which you need to have learned other behaviors first (combining multiple behaviors/tricks/skills). For example side stepping. You start with rearend awareness (the elephant trick), than doing this behavior without a pedestal and than doing it sideways instead of in circels.

    First you decide which new trick you want to work on, doesn't matter which one or how long it will take. If it is a trick which needs fundaments, you start with those or maybe you start with a fundamental trick and than move on to something completely different. The sky is the limit ;). You do a trainingsession with your dog, keeping it fun and not to0 long and making sure that you don't frustrate your dog. This you will repeat untill your dog knows the trick. Maybe it is one session, maybe 5, hell maybe it will take you a year. Maybe you will stop at one point and start with an other behavior, then go on with a new on and start with the 'old' one after that one. There is no 'golden' order.
    If your dogs first learns handstand than open/close a book and than spin that's fine.

    In between you can choose to refresh the basics (this is not in a same session as the new behavior). Speeding up the already known tricks. Polishing up the tricks. Asking for the behaviors you dog knows to check if he still knows them. Doing games which involve these tricks. These you mix with you other session. Maybe you don't do this for 2 weeks, maybe you do it 3 times in a row.
    Whatever you feel like doing, how the weather is, what your dog likes.

    How much time you spent: well how long your sessions last is already mentioned. I usually call a behavior proofed when if after a day (so without a trainingsession that day in which I did the behavior I want to proof) I can give my dog a verbal cue and (s)he will show me the wanted behavior (and not first try six other things/look at me like I need to get my act together).

    Most important thing: as long as it is fun you can never do things wrong!

    I have a habbit of making lists, don't know why just like making them ;).
    So I have a list of the tricks M&B know (every now and than I scroll through it and pick a few to do for fun/speed up/check if they still know that one). I also have list of tricks I'd like to teach (there are so many I couldn't remember it all, so if I wonder which trick to do next I'll check that list.

    Hope this helps and I'm not speaking gibberish ;).
  3. Mutt Experienced Member

    Also maybe an (online) training class is an idea?
    This will give you (though temporary) structure.
    Silvia Trckman for instance as a very nice online trianingclass (for tricks/agility foundations), though quite expensive
    (still want to do that one someday :cautious:)
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  4. brody_smom Experienced Member

    Thanks, Mutt. This is pretty much how I have been doing things. It just feels a little random and I kind of forget to do the polishing and speeding up of known tricks. I thought maybe there was some kind list of behaviors that build off of each other and should be taught in a certain order to make it easier to progress from one to the next. Even in the Book of Training Levels, I expected that the behaviors were listed in the order that they should be taught, and yet in Level One, she says you can work these in any order, but they must be completed before moving on to Level Two. Then right in the first section on teaching "come", she says "For more information on working behaviours without food, you can start at Level Two Sits and Downs." This is frustrating to people like me who work best with a logical sequence. Maybe I'll try a "for Dummies" or "Idiot's Guide", they seem to do more of the hand-holding I need!:p
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  5. brody_smom Experienced Member

    When I signed up for Intermediate Class at Petsmart right after we got Brody, I was expecting to be taught how to teach my dog. I had also hoped for some socialization with people and a few other dogs. What I got was one hour a week of frustration as the "trainer" had us proof behaviors she hadn't taught us how to teach. Talk about setting your dog up to fail!:oops: I will be much more careful next time I sign up for classes!
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  6. blacknym Experienced Member

    EEK really? That is disappointing. :( Hopefully your doing better now that your getting advice from us here. LOL
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  7. tylerthegiant Well-Known Member

    I know you said you're having trouble with speed of the reaction to a cue, there could be several reasons why this may be, but my gut says Brody lacks motivation. Lucas can be like this too. Real slow to sit, lay down, unless he's REALLY driven and motivated (then it's shocking how fast he'll react), and food just doesn't really do it. He'll respond to the cue, but somethings he thinks about it (I can just see it in his eyes) and he sure takes him time with it! Could he be any more clear he doesn't want to do it? LOL You could do a couple of things, think about what REALLY motivates Brody and try and use that as the reward, or start rewarding only for the faster reaction time.
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  8. brody_smom Experienced Member

    He actually is quite food motivated. When I have the clicker out and a bag of treats, he is very focused. When I have food in my hand and am luring him, he reacts very quickly. When we first began training, I was worried about the amount of cheese he was eating, because he worked really hard to earn it. I try to use his kibble most of the time when we are at home now, and save the cheese for walks. When I ask for a sit or a down and he knows I don't have food on me, that's when he looks at me like I've asked him to do something unreasonable.

    Right now I am feeling overwhelmed by all that I need to work on with him, and I'm not sure what is the most important. I feel that I should be spending time on the basics, going back to the beginning and making sure that he knows his prompts and cues. But what I think is more urgent is dealing with his reactivity, so that we can relax and enjoy our lives with Brody.

    In the last couple of weeks, his behavior on leash has become worrisome. He nipped a stranger's backside on a walk and now I am terrified of a repeat performance every time we encounter someone. With the weather warming up, there are more and more people outside walking, riding, pushing strollers, skateboarding, kids are screaming and running around, and there is no where I can go with Brody that isn't full of triggers for him. He barks and lunges and growls at people who are just minding their own business. I wonder if it is him sensing my fear, or if his fear is getting worse on its own. I know I need to set up some social situations to make him more comfortable around people, but I am so scared of something going wrong. I have a feeling that in reality, his behavior is not nearly as bad as I perceive it to be. We are a family of 7 people and 2 cats, and it is my firm belief that he would never intentionally harm any of us. I don't believe he was ever mistreated by his former owner, so his fears are only from lack of socialization. I am reading "Fired Up, Frantic and Freaked Out", by Laura VanArendonk Baugh. It is very encouraging, and I know that I will be able to do the things she recommends in order to help Brody learn to control his reactions. Things just can't improve fast enough for me. I need to get this dog out and exercise him or we're all going to go stir crazy. But how can I do this when I don't feel comfortable leaving my yard?
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  9. tylerthegiant Well-Known Member

    Brodysmom, you can do this, I know you can! I know many of those feeling you describe very well, so when you start to feel overwhelmed think about any of those moments where you saw improvement, and if there haven't been any shining moments like that envision what they will feel like when they happen! It's really important with frustrating or scary behavioral problems to really focus even the smallest of the positives, because it is very overwhelming, but those moments or the dog's natural strengths means it's possible, they are capable! Plus when we get a dog it's like a 10-15 year commitment, so when you really think about it, what's a year or two of intense training mean in the big scheme of things? When you have an intelligent, loving, polite manageable dog for the next 8-13 years of your lives together? A year or so is just a drop in the bucket.

    Food motivated, awesome! That's a huge positive for you. Couple of questions for you on how he won't seem to want to work with you w/o food. How are you fading the lure? This is a typical but easy to fix problem, a lot of people either fade a lure too early, or too abruptly and it causes this problem. Have you tried variable reinforcement? I bet it would work really well with him. Another thing you can do is more capturing behaviors. Keep those treats on you at all times, in pocket in a ziplock bag, so hopefully he doesn't know they are there, and then reward whatever you're working on that you just randomly see him doing through out the day. This accomplishes two things, one he never knows whether you have treats, just because you're not wearing a treat pouch or having them in your hand doesn't mean you don't have them, and two he's more likely to offer certain behaviors whenever you ask for them because those are the ones most often being rewarded. Do you ever use what trainers call "hot reinforcers," "environmental rewards" or "functional rewards?" I bet this would be really helpful too. Anything Brody really wants, like to come in from outside or to go outside before a walk, get his dinner, get a toy out of the toybox, catch the Frisbee, whatever it is I'd ask for a behavior before you give it to him (something really simple and basic-set him up for a big success). This does a couple of cool things too, one is it plants in his mind rewards are more than just food, and two it makes YOU more reinforcing because you are the giver off all the things Brody wants, and it's a partnership for him to get them, he gives you something, you give him something.

    Unless you training is shutting down your dog, no training is bad training. Basic obedience, working on reactivity, tricks, I think you'll find working in one arena kind of translates well to other areas. As long as Brody is loving it you can't really go wrong on what to do. It all makes YOU more reinforcing and creates that bond. All good stuff.

    You will need to keep in mind Brody's reactivity is going to take time. You'll be less anxious if you just come to terms with this and try to view it as just a simple fact. I still get tense in certain circumstances, and the dogs DO pick up on it in a major way! One major thing to concentrate on, your breathing, if you try and regulate your breathing I think you'll find the tension in the rest of your body will follow. If you're a list maker at all (I remember things better after I write them down) make a list of the times when you feel like you're getting tense so it's easier to remember to check in with yourself and work on your breathing.

    I been there, you're feelings are normal and perfectly understandable. You are doing a great job with Brody and he's lucky to have an owner that will accept his imperfections right now.
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  10. blacknym Experienced Member

    Awesome words! I agree!
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  11. brody_smom Experienced Member

    Thanks for the encouragement. We all need to have someone in our corner, cheering us on. Even though you don't know me personally, I trust that you can say those things without hesitation because you have been through worse yourself and come out of it triumphantly! He has made some improvements, that's true. He used to really react to water rushing down gutter drains, and now he just sniffs without all the freaked out lunging and barking. I have begun to check myself on walks, letting the leash out to its full length rather than holding it short, and BREATHING. It's hard to trust him, but if I want him to be confident, I need to be confident in him. I don't want to give up on him.
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  12. brody_smom Experienced Member

    When I fade the lure, I continue to move my hand as if I had a treat in it, but I don't. Click and treat for quick response. If his response is too slow, I go back to the lure. Keep doing this until he is responding reliably then add the verbal cue. Then stop clicking, but require more repetitions, or add other commands (i.e., sit, then down, then roll over before he gets the treat). I will ask him to sit before I open his crate door in the morning, or before opening the door to go outside. When he rolls his ball under the sofa, I will ask him for a sit/sit pretty or go to his mat before fishing the ball out for him. He won't accept food at all for playing fetch in the park, but he has to bring the ball back to withing reach of my chucker before I will pick it up and throw it. If he goes for the ball when I am picking it up, I won't pick it up, but wait for him to back off (he used to attack the chucker like crazy). He is finally learning that I have to throw the ball for the game to be any fun. This took a while, and I was getting almost as much exercise as he was because he wouldn't bring the ball back.
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  13. brody_smom Experienced Member

    I am reading a book called "Fired Up, Frantic, and Freaked Out", which is giving me some of the structure I was looking for in training sessions. It's helpful, because it gives a concrete plan of action to give your dog the ability to make better choices and really think for himself. It uses shaping rather than luring to get the dog's brain really engaged in the process and help him feel more in control of his own behavior. I am prepared for this to take a while, but at least I know that I am taking steps in the right direction, and the methods are proven to work.

    Thanks again for your kind words of encouragement. They mean a lot.:)(y)
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  14. tylerthegiant Well-Known Member

    I've read that book and it's very good, I liked it. Click to Calm is another excellent one, and When Pigs Fly, if you haven't read any of those already. With what you're doing you WILL get there I promise! Keep up the excellent work mom!
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  15. brody_smom Experienced Member

    I will look into those as well. Thanks!
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  16. MaryK Honored Member

    All the advice given above is excellent. Very important for you to remain calm, as dogs DO very quickly pick up on your state of nerves. I had to discipline myself when I was dealing with Ra Kismet's totally over the top reaction (he completely zoned out on me) after he was attacked by a dog when out for our walk. Once I mastered my own nervous reaction, I noticed an IMMEDIATE calming in Ra Kismet. They take their cues from you, so if you're nervous and tense, they will follow suit and think 'hey Mom's nervous so there must be trouble for me too I'd better react".

    Also, when out walking become a 'treat dispenser' every time a potential 'situation' arises. Try to do so before Brody starts to react, ask for 'sit' or 'look at me' (practice this in your garden so he's really 'got it') and then treat like crazy. While the dog is eating it actually changes their brain chemistry, Victoria Stillwell has a very good article on her site. http://positively.com/ Check the section on Positive Training.

    Is there a really good Positive + school near you? This would be a great help to both Brody and yourself.

    Don't give up, we all get frustrated at times, but Brody will become a model Canine Citizen. Southerngirl has been forever training her dog Missy and now she's writing articles in her blog about how good Missy has become.

    Keep up the good work, Brody's a lovely dog and kudos for keeping on despite frustrations(y):D
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  17. saimgee123 Member

    every dog has different nature and behavior so its too difficult to make a schedule because some dogs like the long walk and hard exercise and some like the easy so you can check the interest of your dog and make your own schedule.
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  18. MaryK Honored Member

    Absolutely correct saimgee. Example: Today Ra Kismet (out of quarantine and off the sick list now) did half an hours training, still looked for more but I'd run out of time. Then he went for an hour and a half walk and still wanted more, but I was starving and thirsty;) Zeus on the other paw, did five minutes training and decided being the audience was the better option, got you treats and all you had to do was sit there and be good. His walk, due to his illness and age, always is shorter but he's happy just to go for a trot around the block provided it's not raining of course!.:)
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  19. brody_smom Experienced Member

    What's wrong with Ra Kismet? How did I miss that he was sick?
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  20. MaryK Honored Member

    I only posted on shoutbox. Ra Kismet has had conjunctivitis, hence the quarantine period, plus managed to pick up a tummy bug - which may have been due to the fact that when my partner walked him the other night Ra Kismet snaffled up 'something' a little too quickly for partner to ascertain what on earth it was:rolleyes: As I've stopped the little monkey devouring dead birds, KFC (did make him sick before when I was too late to prevent that happening) and other less than desirable things which he considers delicious, I do strongly feel his 'bug', high temperature and off color, not wanting to train etc. could well have been 'self inflicted'. LOL nevertheless he was still taken to the vets, at great expense of course, and well and truly looked after. He's fine now, eyes are perfectly clear, that was the awful dust here I'm sure, and no sign of any high temperature or tummy bug. Just one of those things youngsters get at times, just like humans, no alarm bells just one very woebegone little boy:(
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