Steps To Success Level One Complete!

It’s official! Both Maizey and Magnus passed level one in the new Steps to Success!

For Maizey L1 was a matter of testing behaviors she already knew. She got stuck on Sit, step 4 “dog sits by open door.” After a bit of work on that she finished her last test on January 14.

Magnus completed his last test on January 16. “Dog sits by open door” was no issue for him since he thinks it’s too cold to go outside anyways, so sitting by the door and getting paid for it was a great deal to him.

The Issue of Testing
Which brings me to one thing that has held me up in the levels before: the dreaded testing!

One time in Junior High I got a B on my report card. I don’t remember what class, I don’t remember why. What I remember is being devastated. That B may as well have been an F. I was a perfectionist about my grades, among other things, back then. All or nothing thinking seems to run deep in many of us.

Although I have shed many of my perfectionistic ways, when it comes to testing in the S2S I get hung up.

To pass the test the dog must perform the skill correctly one time on a day when you haven’t trained. Seems simple enough, but somehow the test skill never goes A+ worthy to me. This is B may as well be an F syndrome at it’s best. I can’t count how many times I probably could have passed one of the pups on a skill, but didn’t.

Once I stopped being a perfectionist about it I realized I was being cautious to the detriment of their progress. The S2S are progressive so a dog does need to have a skill solid, but they also reinforce the previous behaviors while building on them.

Make a note: progress comes from moving forward, not standing still.

For those of you who do the levels, how do you handle testing? Do you test only one step of one skill on a single day? Do you test several steps to a single skill at once?

Moving Forward
We have started L2 and are looking forward to a few months of L2 work for Magnus. For Maizey it is more a matter of testing and filming many of the skills.

Looking back I realized I started this blog as a training blog and now it’s hardly ever about training.

I guess that’s because when I started I thought I knew a little and now I realize how little I know!

One consistent lesson in my life has been the older I get the more I realize I have to learn. So it has come about that my training blog has turned into a forum for my learning from all of you, and I hope somewhere along the way perhaps you learn something from my 4legged friends.

With the completion of the new S2S book on the horizon, I hope to make some real progress in the next few months, so I will be doing more posts on the levels. This will mean more posts on getting back to the basics. I hope it wont be too basic and boring for many of you who are much more experienced than I, but maybe our progress will inspire other newbies to pick up a clicker and get learning with their 4legged friends!

A Word To My Pups
I have include a short gush of proud Crazymomlady. My favorite part of running through L1 was how much my pups love to work. Their joy is contagious, and their love of learning inspiring.

Level two here we come!


Training Challenge Week 2: My Social Butterflies’ CGC Prep

With that we meet the core of our Training Challenge for week. Since “real life” made my big plans to go to the farmers market unfeasible, I planned my “real life” tasks so I could take Maizey with me every where I went on Friday afternoon.

That meant she went into the local farm/ranch supply store for Bullies, and to a clothes store where she rode in the cart while her crazymomlady spent 45 minutes shopping for a new Dog Duffle for the trip. She also practiced waiting in the parking lot of the post office (no dogs allowed in there). As an aside mehusbandy gets double props and many thanks for meeting me there and sitting with her since it was too hot to just leave her in the car.

It’s always amazing to me how much training we do on these little jaunts out. To illustrate how many opportunities there are for challenging things I tried to see things from her viewpoint. Take CalRanch for example: getting out of the car means sit nicely for seat belt undone, sit and wait for okay to exit the car door (both fit into our Day to Day skills for boundary Zen), LLW into the store included 2 cars and a family of three walking past, a man coming past her with a cart, bails of hay and manure (even I could smell them!) Inside the store is a whole new set of challenges: At the counter she had to sit and down while I exchanged something. In total there were 3 younger women and 2 older women with their husbands who wanted to greet her (perfect for CGC#1), At this point we met a lab and a tiny dog of unknown origins (more to come on that later), then walking back to the dog section there were toys, a rocking chair, too many people to count and finally the park it next to the bully’s. (LLW, ZEN and CGC 1) And that list doesn’t even count the skills used while paying and leaving.

As for the clothes store that presented its own set of training opportunities. But let me just sum it up with the 4 year old in the cart that was hollering, “I wanna pet the puppy!! I wanna pet the puppy! Can I pet your puppy!?!” Now for some pups that may not have been a challenge, but Maizey LOVES kids. Must be cause their faces are more convenient for face hug smothering.

So for her the little kids were the biggest challenge. She knows she must be quiet in the stores with carts. (Could a shopping cart be a contextual clue?) And she was perfect, but when we saw the little kids she would wine very quietly as if she “just can’t stand it! There is a little 2legged friend crazymomlady!” (Which again fits into our CGC prep #1.)

"Seriously, who would not want to be smothered by this face?"

I am very proud of my little social butterfly. She did very well on what was actually a lot challenging stuff. It made me more determined than ever to keep helping her and who knows maybe she will learn that some 2legged friends are okay with not being smothered in Cavalier ears!

Next weeks Training Challenge: Week 3-who knows what we will come up with in the vastness of the Back Hills!

DATE and TIME: August 12, 2010 afternoon
LOCATION: CalRanch, Post Office Parking Lot and clothes store
SKILLS TRAINED: sit for meet and greet-#1 CGC; LLW; On the Road L3 tests: L1sit, down, target and zen, Two dog reacting: used holding her with stop it cue
SUMMARY: Sliding doors make a stunning distraction and blow LLW out of the water. USE DOORS AS DISTRACTION FOR L3 LLW. In CalRanch one lab and one little scrappy dog on leash came around corner of check stand. I picked her up, she reacted but ??on fear amount. I held her and did muzzle hold. She barked at them, but quieted. ??on effectiveness of holding her, but was easier in that pinch. Passed L1 sit, down, zen and target (L3 OTR) in post office parking lot. Post office also fit the bill for CGC #8 and our “solitude is sweet” daily task. was in clothes store for 40min. she ride in cart. Did perfect. Loves Kids, high on distraction scale.


Both Our 4Legged Girls Went Traveling


Before their crazymomlady spent 2 days sitting dazed and confused in front of the computer screen Maizey and Meeka and their crazy-biped-friends went traveling.

It was a short but fun trip to go visit Dare, Zoe and all of their 4legged and biped-friends.

This was a special treat for me since we got to go as a family. It’s a rare treat that all 4 of us get to take time off at the same time so that made the trip perfect from the start.

It is crazy to me how taking one more pup and one mehusbandy results in so much more packing and so much more stuff! I wish I was one of those people who could travel hundreds of miles with a backpack and hoody, alas I am not. Especially with the dogs I seem to take more than 10 dogs would ever need!

We did some fun training with both girls. I decided to jump on the Susan Garrett recall wagon and try what she has been teaching us all on her blog. More of that to come after the video is edited.

Maizey passed her L2 sit-stay, down-stay and watch tests. Video to come with that too. The thing I was the most proud of was how well she handled herself with the kennel dogs. Sorry to be a broken record but, video in process there too.

While we did plenty of training we also just relaxed and took an awesome hike.

"Look crazymomlady! I can climb a tree!"

This time on our hike Lucy and Penny joined us. They may be the old girls in their house but nothing slows them down!



And the best part of the hike? Having our big girl with us. She did get stiff and sore, but I think it was worth it to her!

"This is as deep as I go!"


Maizey’s Level 2 Video-Part One

Time for the L2 video of Maizey’s Training Levels progress. She has tested 8 out of the 16 behaviors. So we are half way there.

She tested her first behavior on April 1, 2010 then the last behaviors we tested were on June 6, 2010 so 8 behaviors in 2 months is pretty good. Keeping good records, which I admittedly am not great at, does help. It’s quite encouraging to look back and see how fast her progress really was.

The video shows the tests as outlined for L2, I view it as sort of the basic foundation to build on.

Then after you lay a firm foundation the levels outline a “Continuing Education” section. We are working on much of the continuing education skills for the skills she has already tested. These are some of the great ideas:

COME: call her with my back to her, and recalling her and gently grabbing different parts of her body helps her learn to be caught.

DOWN: work on using other forms of payment. Try a back scratch or Maizey loves it when I clap for her, apparently she loves applause! A toy, or before being released to go through a door are some other ideas.

PARK IT: This has been a really fun one. Part of it is too move the mat around and teach them to figure out where it is and go to it. One time her floppy lion was a few feet closer to her and in front of the mat so she ran over and pounced on it in perfect park it position and just grinned up at me like, “How ’bout this? good enough?” Such a silly girl! This has proved a very practical skill also to help with her reactivity so we have been doing a lot of mat work out side and in many locations.

CRATE: Location of the crate becomes very important now and so far she has learned to be crated outside in our yard, at numerous other peoples houses, at a training field, and in the car to name a few.

To really understand the depth of the levels you really have to just visit Sue’s Training Level book and dive in, but it is a great program, especially if you aren’t in a position to do a lot of classes.


I Promise We Do Train Around Here Once In A while

Though it often doesn’t seem like we do much actual dog training around here Maizey is making some progress with her training levels work.

I was very excited when I finally got organized enough to give her some of the L2 tests she has been ready for. So on the 15th she tested and passed her L2 sit, down, crate and handling. So that means so far she has passed 5 out of 16 behaviors in L2.
We are working on and close to testing her watch, sit-stay and down-stay. She is doing excellent with her “go to mat” work and could test any day. Also her L2 come is really good, we just need to enlist a helper to hold her since stay isn’t that firm yet. 
So all in all she is doing well and I don’t think I will need to apply for any easy scholarships for dog training school. Although I have been thinking about taking a clicker class for some time now. The trainer who taught her puppy class does one and I think it would be very good for me, but Maizey probably needs a little more time to work on her reactive issues. More to come on how we are handling that soon.
In other news around here, we had a very nice walk again tonight. I can’t believe what a difference walking makes to ease Meeka’s mysterious symptoms. It was dark when Meeka, myself and mehusbandy walked so no pics of her, but Maizey would like to lodge an official complaint about my treat placement.
And the sky was stunning

Milestones Should Always Be Celebrated

Most important things first: congratulations to Maizey for she completed Level 1 in the Training Levels. She has been very close but because of her knee could not work on Come we have not been able to finish. But in just the last two weeks that she has been cleared for normal activity we brushed up her recall skills and she passed tonight beautifully. And thus her Level one is complete!
 ”HaHa mom look at me laughing cause you made me wear a ribbon! You’re so silly mom!”

After that talking to I gave myself in the last post I went back to her levels tracker journal and reviewed what she would need to do to pass a few other tests. Turns out she was ready for a couple. Sit and down. and very close on several others. So we will be updating you on that as it comes around.

She did take her L2 sit test and of course there was no problem. A+ for sitting. 
“See mom? I can even sit on the couch while wearing a ribbon and waiting patiently for you to take my picture!. . .But seriously could you hurry it up a little?”

So that you have an idea of what Passing Level 1 actually means I have put a brief summary below. Hopefully it will help you feel like this is something that is reachable for all of your dogs and their people no matter what kind of limitations of time or energy there is to be dealt with.

Level One Skills:(as copied from Sue Ailsbys Training Levels Book)
The dog must play the Come Game between the handler and a friend or stranger standing 20’ apart. An actual cue to come is desirable but not necessary.

The dog must Down from a Sit or Stand with no more than two cues – hand and voice, voice and body language, two voice cues, etc. It is not necessary for the dog to stay in the Down position, simply to lie down.

The dog must Sit from standing position on one cue only (may be a voice OR a hand cue, but not both, and no extra body language from the handler). The handler may use the dog’s name to get her attention before starting.

The dog must deliberately Touch the handler’s hand with her nose on only one voice cue. The hand in position is, naturally, a second, allowable cue. 

The dog must stay away from a treat in the handler’s hand for 5 seconds. There can be only one voice cue, which will be given before the hand is presented. 

It’s really not that hard and I suspect many of your four legged friends out there already know much of this. But if you give it a few minutes a day you will see so much improvement and find holes in their reliability that you didn’t know were there. And best of all when you get done with level one you can show how stunningly awesome your friends are by making them pose for a celebratory picture:
Meeka says, “Hey where’s my ribbon? I’m the better girl anyways!”


A Full 4 Legged Day

Today was a full day of training fun stuff!

Maizey tested her L1 target and passed. When a dog tests a behavior it must be tested “cold”. Meaning w/ no practice on that day. Some behaviors must be tested w/ no treats and clicker in the room. The L1 target test is as follows, The dog must deliberately Touch the handler’s hand with her nose on only one voice cue. The hand in position is, naturally, a second, allowable cue.” So Maizey’s voice cue for a nose touch is simply “touch”. Today she gets an A+ on her L1 touch! Tomorrow: L2 here we come.

Today was also bath day, which we usually combine w/ swimming. The tub isn’t deep enough to actually doggy paddle(no pun intended;)). But she can wade around and it is the best exercise for her knees. Today we started working on helping her put her face in the water. Turns out cheerios are perfect for this, as they float and gradually sink. I throw a handful in the water and from there it’s a simple matter of capturing when she dunks her face to go after the cheerio w/ a click/treat.

Along w/bath day we naturally worked on L2 handling since you should never bathe a dog w/ out brushing her out first. The handling test is, “Dog allows the handler to handle his ears, tail, and feet. This may be done on a table or on the floor. There must be minimal fussing.” Maizey handles well, she should after 3 surgeries in a year! But this level builds a better association with being handled as a groomer, or vet would handle her. It also introduces grooming on a table, which we haven’t done and is an interesting dynamic.

She also went for a ride w/ me so she worked on sitting nice in her seat, and being calm in the car otherwise known as “car zen.” We also did our first barking/hush session at the dog park. But more to come on both “car zen” and “tell me/hush” later. 

Car zen:

“This “car seat zen” is no sweat!”