Zac The Lurcher

Discussion in 'Meet the Dogs' started by running_dog, Jun 5, 2014.

  1. running_dog Honored Member

    I've been meaning to introduce Zac properly for a long time and haven't... All being well instead of trying to write it all at once I'm going to post a bit about him now and just keep editing.

    Zac is supposed to be a Saluki/Greyhound/Whippet/Border Collie.

    I've had him since he was about 5 months old.

    When we went to see him he seemed determined to give the lie to every thing his former owner said about him. The words "house trained" and he wet on the carpet, "never goes on the furniture" and he leapt onto the back of the settee, "excellent recall" and he hurtled off down the street with his owner in pursuit. But he was beautiful and everything I had been dreaming of in a dog for years so he came home with me.

    He looked like this:
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    This is a more artistic photo of him but it doesn't capture his puppy look so well:
    IMG_2327.JPG

    He's grown up to be handsome, intelligent and really fast,
    IMG_0785.JPG

    IMG_0767.JPG

    Of course I'm not at all biased :LOL:
    IMG_0758.JPG

    No description of Zac would be complete without pointing out that he is very much a couch potato...
    IMG_0493.JPG

    Now Zac's a mature dog and he is quite possibly my best friend, don't get me wrong, I've got amazing human friends but Zac is special somehow... maybe because he knows who I really am, at my best and at my worst and he still loves me just the same... maybe because I can be silly with him and he laughs with me not at me... maybe just because we are us.


    Training philosophy
    I made a lot of mistakes with Zac's training. The biggest mistake I made was not understanding 100% positive training. I thought... well really I didn't think and that was the problem... Iassumed that because punishment is sometimes necessary for people it is necessary for dogs. Which is a thoroughly stupid idea. Dogs don't have morals, there is no "good" behaviour in dogs, there is no "bad" behaviour in dogs, there is just behaviour. If dogs are never bad then they NEVER EVER EVER deserve to be punished.

    Zac really shines with 100% positive training but in a way that is beside the point, it is absolutely wrong to use any other method.

    Recall training
    Perfect recall is something I am still working on with Zac. One of the videos I've seen refers to Susan Garrett saying that a dog's recall training is only as good as it's work around distractions and that is totally true with Zac.

    The biggest single stumbling block for me has been the phrase "you have to be more interesting than the distractions". It is a pity that this concept is so phrased as to suggest you try to trump the distraction in the moment.

    I look at it in a slightly different way, if my dog is always looking for every excuse to come to me (through a mixture of conditioning and simply having fun) then I'm never really going to need to worry about recall. When I release Zac he is usually almost immediately looking for an excuse to come back to me.

    I've temporarily removed the video I had posted of Zac's recall training. I hope to update with a written summary and a shorter video in due course.

    Trick training
    AT LAST I can say that Zac knows MORE THAN 60 tricks/cues :cool:. I have grouped a lot some of his tricks here - for example I've counted all jumping over as one trick as basically I indicate what he has to jump and he jumps it.

    1. Come
    2. Sit
    3. Down
    4. Stand
    5. Wait
    6. Lead time (waits where he is for me to leash him)
    7. Loose leash (left or right side)
    8. Round to heel
    9. Swing to heel
    10. Left Side/Right Side (change heel sides behind me)
    11. Swap/Switch (change heel sides in front of me)
    12. Side step/Crab
    13. Off the path (Stands across behind me as I face the path)
    14. Back/Back up away from me/Back up towards me
    15. Front
    16. Look at that
    17. Eyes on (Look at me)
    18. Bed
    19. Leave it
    20. Paid for/Get it
    21. Fetch
    22. Find
    23. Sit pretty
    24. Stand Tall
    25. “You got my back?”
    26. Roll Over
    27. Crawl
    28. Cross paws (right and left)
    29. Pass the ball
    30. Catch
    31. Touch/nudge
    32. Paw touch
    33. Paws on
    34. Paws in
    35. Shake a paw/other paw
    36. High five
    37. Peekaboo
    38. Walking peekaboo
    39. Cop Cop
    40. Spin/Turn
    41. On/Off an object
    42. Through (hoop, arms, tunnel)
    43. Jump Over (bar, rope, arm, leg, back, fallen tree, chair...)
    44. Bounce
    45. Figure eights
    46. Reverse figure eights
    47. Leg weave (normal, lateral, inverse, with spins/turns)
    48. Reverse leg weave
    49. Pivot
    50. Circle/other circle
    51. Twisty circle
    52. Reverse circle/other reverse circle
    53. Speak
    54. Where's your tongue?
    55. Head down
    56. Skateboard
    57. Basketball
    58. Water (go and get a drink and/or paddle)
    59. Tree (go climb a sloping willow tree)
    60. Close the door (paws)
    61. Close the drawer (nose)
    62. Stack dishes
    63. “Do as I do”
    64. Take a bow
    MaryK, kassidybc, Ripleygirl and 2 others like this.

  2. southerngirl Honored Member

    I love hearing about Zak and he was a cute little puppy and a handsome boy know.
    I love the video, that's cool that he bops the ball with his nose.
    I'm the same as you. I made a lot of mistakes training Missy. I grew up that dogs are to be popped and yelled at when they misbehave. I'm glad I found + reinforcement. Like Zak Missy has really bloomed after changing to positive.
    I'm looking forward to information about his recall training. I'm currently teaching Piper.
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  3. running_dog Honored Member

    Thanks Southerngirl, Zac can even put a ball in a low basket ball net like this but I never manage to get him to do this for the camera!
    I'm really glad I found truly positive training too.
    I'll try and put together the video of some of the recall games and training we do over the next week or couple of weeks, it makes more sense than describing them in words.
    MaryK likes this.
  4. elissa Well-Known Member

    Oh he is adorable!! So handsome!!
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  5. Ripleygirl Experienced Member

    Lovely to see the puppy and adult Zac and beautiful to hear your story! You sound like you both have come a long way!
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  6. MaryK Honored Member

    I'm waaaaaaaaaay behind, sorry!:(

    I just loved hearing about Zac as a puppy. LOL reminds me of when I found a stray Doberman X ? and we tried to find her a new home. She did everything possible to put off prospective new people, just like Zac, wee'd on the carpet, refused to recall, lifted up the skirt of one very 'proper' woman and exposed her underwear!:rolleyes: And that's just the start! We, well my Mom because Tara got on better with her crew than mine, ended up keeping her!

    Zac was adorable as a puppy and very handsome now he's all grown up!:love::)

    Found the recall video very interesting, especially the lead part. I'll use the cue 'lead time' myself, because I hate having to call Leaf and then leash her. I do call her a lot and just treat though, so she doesn't see the lead as 'end of fun' time. But coming off the beach into the car park, even if the car's very close, I don't like her off leash.

    And I also like the ping pong game, good one to remember.

    Plus your comments on the 'make yourself more interesting etc', I've always 'struggled' a bit with that one at Doggy School because making an idiot of myself has never seemed to work, especially with Leaf, who just stood and looked at me as if to say "Yea Gods do you REALLY expect me to come to someone making such a goose of themselves". Result, I was in strife and Leaf didn't recall. Stopped doing that and now her recall is really good for one still so much a puppy. Even with other dogs and puppies on the beach she'll recall, provided I'm fast on the call. Your video was great, looking forward to the next update.

    One question. How did you get Zac to do such a fantastic down/drop? Leaf can do so many tricks but her down/drop isn't the best.:eek:
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  7. running_dog Honored Member

    Thankfully Zac didn't succeed in putting me off! He still likes tall dark men with a South Shields accent but I don't know whether he still knows why, I think he is fairly happy with me.

    I do call Zac and leash him sometimes but mostly I use "lead time", I don't think it does any harm to have separate cues. Sometimes Zac will wait when I call "lead time" when I think he would have ignored a recall cue.

    Congrats on Leaf's recall :). Zac couldn't care less what I did either - unless I hid (but he is brilliant at trailing me so if he is really distracted he doesn't care if I'm "lost" because he knows he can find me when he is ready anyway) or started running away (but only if I was about a quarter of a mile away to start with). I've just been reading "Control Unleashed" by Leslie Mcdevitt, she goes even further than I had and says that you can't always be more exciting than the distractions. She says that instead you make yourself the gateway to the distractions... it is a really cool idea. Lots of the things I was thinking through she takes a step further and makes sense of. I'm really excited to try them out again with better timing and more understanding.

    Thanks. I have been thinking more and more that with Zac recall is in 3 parts.
    1. Teaching the meaning of the cue, I like Tigerlily's cue=chicken game for that.
    2. Teaching Zac to keep an eye on me rather than scoping the environment. That's what most of the current video is about.
    3. Teaching Zac to hear and respond even when in drive mode, Zac visibly changes into prey drive and becomes a different dog. I have some ideas and strategies for working through this and we take opportunities as they come.

    I started randomly asking for down while I was walking with him at heel. Then when I was running with him at heel. Then when he was walking ahead of me, then when he was running ahead of me. At first he was very mouldy and he would just stop and look at me or he'd sit (and I'd call "both ends!" to him :LOL:).

    He was still pretty hit and miss until a few months ago I got the confidence to withhold the rewards for downs that needed more than one cue (I give verbal praise and maybe stroke him briefly) and also started to really jackpot the good ones. After a not so good down I try to set him up for a good one almost immediately and reward him well. He also likes it if I take time to sit down with him and pet him up for ages after a really good down, like a super jackpot :rolleyes: .

    When I call "down" I let him choose whether to face me or continue looking where he was going, I mean one is instantaneous and the other is giving me attention... I can't fault either! I'm not expecting the running skid downs of a border collie from him. We still have a way to go with this cue, you didn't see his best nor his worst downs on the video! But I hope some of this helps you explain what you want to Leaf anyway.
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  8. MaryK Honored Member

    Computer playing up, so am not going to attempt 'edit'.

    I think Zac is very happy with you:D

    I have started using the 'lead time' with Leaf and she's responded extremely well to same. I always treat her as an incentive and of course she has plenty of 'recall' or checks back in herself where she's also treated.

    Drive/prey mode. Leaf is still not quite 100% in this, especially when there are a number of people (who all look 'interested' i.e. don't mind chatting to a puppy) or other dogs who approach in 'let's play mode'. She will come back but it does take a few calls. Seems to be more a problem when everyone is CLOSE rather than at a distance. For example, other day on the beach, three dogs, two off leash and a Great Dane on leash, numerous people all in a very 'tight' space - going between rocks/sand and ocean - she first went over to say Hi to the Great Dane, social chap, then decided the two off leash dogs may also want to play. Eventually, after three/four calls she did come to me and was duly treated. Plus she remained alongside and didn't attempt to run off when the other distractions moved on in the opposite direction. I feel for an 18 months teenager, with high prey drive, this wasn't that bad. What do you think? Interested to know as my partner seems to feel she should have responded immediately and not had to be called more than once. Personally, I don't agree~! Would be very interested in how you train Zac when he's in 'prey mode'.

    Scoping out the environment. Leaf's pretty good. She can get a fair way ahead and will stop, turn around and either run back to me or check out all is well, usually runs back. If those pesky seagulls are around, she will still at times try to herd them, but has rather 'given up', especially after they got very annoyed and dive bombed her the other day. I can usually get her to come even if they are around, on the first call.

    Leaf's main problem with drop is that she will immediately go into bow, and I have to very lightly tap her rear end to get her to drop. The only way so far she will do a decent drop is to begin with the sit pretty, which is NOT what I want at all - hard on her body etc. and no use when she's off leash.

    Drop is really a problem and so far haven't had any luck even with a normal, at my side or in front of me, drop. It's my 'achilles heel' with training Leaf, especially as I do want her to do her CGC.
  9. running_dog Honored Member

    Glad it is working for you too :)

    If Zac hasn't returned on the second call most likely he isn't going to. Leaf sounds like she is doing fine though I'd say she is operating in play drive not prey drive! I'm working towards 1st call recalls but I haven't got there. Zac is going through a particularly mouldy patch with recall from other dogs - he only has to hear barking and he legs it at the moment. I think there must be a female dog in season around again and he is checking out every dog just in case it is the one.

    Working with Zac in high drive mode... at the moment I'm identifying things that make him zone out from me and trying to build up a response to them that includes me. For that we are trying "look at that" rather than "look at me", so he gets rewarded for looking calmly at the thing that tips him over the edge (yesterday it was a baby hedgehog, today it was the dogs we met in the street). If he goes on progressing I'm start to hype him up and play "look at that" when he is excited. Then there is the make yourself the gateway to distractions idea. Whether these will be enough to enable recall when in full chase I'm not sure yet. I could try the toy on a lunge whip impulse control idea but he doesn't normally get that fired up by toys so I've decided to work on the less novel approaches first.

    Just to make sure, is your cue for bow sufficiently different from your cue for down? I had to change "bow" to "take a bow" so I could be sure Zac would be able to recognise the difference between the cues.
    Does the surface she is on make any difference? Zac likes to lie down on a thick rug not on a hard floor.
    Zac went through a stage of half downs, that is why I have the follow up cue "both ends" LOL. Also I looked for times when Zac was tired and wanted to lie down anyway and rewarded him by sitting with him stroking him.

    Would it work to lure Leaf to bow, then cue down, then touch her rear end - leaving about a second between each stage but keeping it all brisk and lively? That way there is a good chance Leaf will start to pre-empt you and go completely down on your verbal cue without waiting for the touch. Then you could start to cue down before you lure bow and see if she gets it. You kind of don't want her thinking that down means bow which is why I suggest you lure or even cue bow first. I'd mix in some stands from bow too so she doesn't lose the bow cue. Also you've probably tried this but if she likes chasing a ball or before playing with other dogs ask for a full down first and mark and release instantly (don't ask for any duration), that gives a super mega lively fun reward :cool:.

    I hope some of that was helpful.
    MaryK likes this.
  10. MaryK Honored Member

    Yes, she's very happy with 'lead time', no problems there at all. Even with those 'pesky' seagulls still not rounded up!

    Thank you, I felt Leaf was doing well too, as she will come, albeit after maybe a couple of callswhistles. Again, thank you, didn't think of it being play drive as opposed to prey drive. I think I can tell the difference but would appreciate your input on this matter. For example, with the other dogs and friendly people, she's quite different in her approach. She may run, but more what I call her fast trot or very slow canter (sorry for horse terminology). Or if they're really close she just walks, bounces actually, up to them. She's still quite puppy like and most people recognize she's still very young. She doesn't jump, well 99.9% of the time, and even if she does it's more a paws up rather than a full on jump. But if it's the seagulls, then she's flat out, looks like a Whippet to be honest, and really FLIES after them, especially if they're a distance away. I can stop her though, she's good, but most times as I know she won't catch them, I let her have the fun run. She can catch birds, unfortunately, did so in the garden I didn't see it happen thank goodness but my partner did.

    Thank you, I think my cues may be a bit too similar. I use a 'bow' cue, i.e. I do a bow for bow and just the hand drop down for drop/down. But they may be too similar to her, though to me LOL I thought they were quite different. Bow is also her default trick! Which she will give if (a) I'm not clear in what I want (b) she's getting bored and wants a break from a particular trick.


    I change my verbal cue to 'take a bow' thanks for that tip. Will also use the 'both ends' cue again thanks for the tip.

    I don't think the surface makes too much difference. I do not ask for drop on grass as we strongly suspect (Vet and myself) that grass or the little biting insect in the grass, are responsible for her allergy. But inside she works on polished boards or tiles, outside on concrete (which may be too hard come to think of it.). At Dog School she's on asphalt or grass - again no-one asks her for down on grass they're aware of her allergies. And she rarely lays on grass even at home. Oh yes and sand, soft, wet whatever, as she goes to the beach for her 'walk' every day.

    Good suggestion. I have been working on cue bow, or just accepting the bow when asked for drop, then very lightly one finger only, touching her rear end and usually I do get a drop. But ....my bad.... I haven't left any time between my actions. Haven't tried to mix stand with bow, will start doing that as I don't want her to loose her bow, it's seriously cute (she will even do cross paws, head down on one side when she bows:)) she knows it's cute too!

    She's not into balls at all! We try a lot to get her to chase a ball, always finding balls on the beach, but so far she's shows absolutely zilch, zippo, zero interest in chasing balls. We've tried at home too, same result. She loves anything soft, toys, cushions (though all have been removed at present) and the soft sponges washed up on the beach, anything soft! But even then it's more a let's play tug or she'll toss it a couple of times and lose interest.

    Thank you so much for all your help and advice. I'm sure Leaf will get drop. We really need it too because of course it's one of the tricks they expect for the CGC which hopefully she'll be able to do very soon.
    running_dog likes this.
  11. running_dog Honored Member

    I meant that with other dogs and people she is in play drive - otherwise you would have the occasional dead lap dog to explain :oops:. With the seagulls I'm sure you are right, from your description she is in prey drive.
    MaryK likes this.
  12. MaryK Honored Member

    Ooops, no dead lap dogs thank goodness!:oops: Almost one dead human though, LOL big black dog, Bull Arab, gamboled over for a play, which Leaf was only too happy to do, partner got in the way by accident of course. He went down and the dog went flying rolled over three times. I was more, to my partner's disgust, afraid the dog was hurt than he was. The dog was fine but partner is now groaning heavily with a sore leg!

    Thank you though, I've been watching her body language and you're absolutely right she's in play drive with other dogs and humans. Seagulls and birds, different story, definitely prey drive but fortunately they fly out over the water and that very quickly ends my little Diva's drive!
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  13. Jean Cote Administrator

    Nice repertoire of tricks! Awesome!! Love it.
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  14. running_dog Honored Member

    Thanks Jean :)
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  15. running_dog Honored Member

    At last!!!! We broke our 60 trick barrier!!!!! :):cool:

    I've really got to try to run through them all this week, I keep forgetting what he knows :oops:. How do all the rest of you keep track? I mean when you are training are you like me and run through the same ten tricks each time and then stand there racking your brains for what else you need to revise?
    MaryK likes this.
  16. southerngirl Honored Member

    I sign onto here and look at the list of tricks they know.
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  17. kassidybc Experienced Member

    Lol that's exactly what I do! :p Especially when people ask to see her tricks, I forgot all of them! Oops! :LOL:
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  18. running_dog Honored Member

    Maybe I should print out the list!

    At least now I know I'm not the only one!
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  19. MaryK Honored Member

    Congratulations!(y) That's awesome! LOL yes, exactly the same here and now with Blossom, double that problem!:rolleyes:
    running_dog likes this.
  20. MaryK Honored Member

    Same here Kassidy, though Leaf helps out and shows them Sit Pretty or Wave - she's smarter than me that's for sure!;)
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