Directional Casting

DC Pic use

One of the tricks Thor is learning for is ITD (intermediate trick dog title) is Directional Casting. I wanted to choose this one from the list of possible tricks since it is a valuable tool for him to use in his modeling/acting career.

What is directional casting?

Just like the name suggests it’s sending the actor in a specific direction. For the trick title he needs to go to the location that I as his handler/trainer send him. Directional casting is used for animal acting, search and rescue (SAR) dogs, and in field retrieving as well as dog sports like agility and canine freestyle.

This is a new trick for Thor although he does have some experience with “go to mark”. I started by folding up two blanket into smaller squares and placing them about 3 feet apart. I had him come into position on my left hand side and starting just about a foot from one blanket I held my arm out straight leading towards the blanket. This is similar to what we do if we we’re pointing out a missed treat (#messyeatingbulldogs) or pointing to a toy to bring to us, so he already knew to look in that direction and see what I was leading towards. Once he took a step or two and was on the blanket I tossed the treat in front of him. Gradually we started further from the blanket and then I started sending him to the other blanket as well.

I just love his smile!
I just love his smile!

What we need to work on:

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We went for a walk today…

Well yesterday actually! While I typically do most of the “dog stuff”; training, medications, dressing them up and taking pictures, thinking of new ways to challenge them, taking them to classes ect, my fiance is the belly rub giver. We are on the same page when it comes to wanting more for Johnny however, so I asked if he would go with us to see how Johnny should be handled. Honestly, I also felt myself getting more and more stressed just thinking about taking Johnny out, so I needed him there for me as well.

Johnny doing a short sit stay while I watered plants before we started!
Johnny doing a short sit stay while I watered plants before we started!

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The Game Plan

I’ve finally narrowed down how I plan to go about working with Johnny on his reactive issues. CARE for Reactive DogsRelaxation ProtocolMuzzle Training and of course Trick Training. I think each of these work hand in hand and will help him be more rounded and able to handle many different situations. There is so much support from all the different facebook groups and fellow bloggers and having a plan in place has really helped me get excited and motivated to work through this! This afternoon we went on a walk with CARE protocol in mind and it was much less stressful for Johnny, my fiance and myself. Ill post about that later tonight!

The beginning of the CARE Protocol states you should:

C- Consider the Dog’s History

A- Analyze and Arrange

R- Respite and Relaxation

E- Equipment

Johnny’s history? He walks great on leash, doesn’t bark or pull lunging to get at people until they are within his strike zone,

Johnny’s Triggers? Stranger, Dogs, Kids. This is the order we are going to work with him as well. Once he’s calmer around strangers then we’ll work on dogs and then once he’s more reliable try desensitizing him with kids. He doesn’t seem worked up around moving objects or noises which is great! Continue reading

The Beginning of Johnny’s Journey

Johnny is perfect… at home, with no visitors, as long as his schedule isn’t disturbed! We got him when I was working at HALO Animal Rescue about 5 years ago. He was just 4 months old and had already found himself on the local humane society’s euthanasia list, not for fear but for straight human aggression. We knew taking him into the rescue was going to be a risk, but we also had seen many many dogs change drastically once they felt more comfortable. We also knew how unfair some behavioral evaluations could be. Johnny, at first, was no exception. He was quiet in his kennel, calm outside in the play yard with the other small dogs, and did not show any type of high strung behavior. He was exactly what I was looking for!

Johnny's picture for HALO's website before we officially adopted him!
Johnny’s picture for HALO’s website before we officially adopted him!

Hindsight is 20-20 and looking back I know if I knew then what I know now I would have seen a very different dog. His being ‘calm’ outside was him being unsure and cautiously watching everything going on. I would have seen that although he may have been quiet in the kennel, he was anything but relaxed. He was tense and withdrawn. Definitely not your typical puppy but I loved that even though he was young he had the face and eyes of an old man. Im sure feeling bad thinking about what he must have gone through at humane was no small part in choosing to adopt him. Fast forward and now Johnny is turning 6, has bitten at least 4 people and attempted several more. He has had to endure poor training choices from us, and has gone from only child to sharing his home with not one but two sometimes obnoxious frenchies! Continue reading

National Puppy Day!

Happy National Puppy Day! I LOVE puppies! Although I’ll always be partial to my own, I think all puppies are these amazing little creatures and love watching them discover this big world. I think Raylee was the first puppy I have had that I actually remember noticing little changes each week. One week learning to bark, the next discovering leaves and sticks, learning her name, having those little “light bulb” moments when everything just clicks. Sure puppies bring challenges as well…. the chewing, barking, and potty training but I’m a strong believer that if you put the time in training at the beginning (either with a puppy or newly adopted dog), it pays itself off ten fold. The first two things I worked on with Thor and Raylee (and should have with Johnny!) were hand feeding their meals and socialization.

One weekend we went up to Flagstaff for a walk in the woods. Raylee was about 11 weeks old at the time.
One weekend we went up to Flagstaff for lunch and a walk in the woods. Raylee was about 11 weeks old at the time.

I’ll never forget Thor growling over his food bowl Continue reading

Thor’s NTD Filming

I decided to start the journey to earning a Champion Trick Dog Title by starting where we left off- at the Novice Title. Thor earned his NTD on July 25th 2013. He earned it on his last day of his first ‘Tricks Dog class’ at Club Doggie (http://www.club-doggie.com) with Champion Trick Dog Instructor Kama R. I was a little overwhelmed with managing Thor, treats, clicker, ect and only had bits and pieces of it recorded.

The day we received Thor's certificate and collar charm.
The day we received Thor’s certificate and collar charm.

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Give your dog a goal?

Yes, I have goals for my dogs. More specifically, I have goals for my dogs and I to work towards together. I have always had ideas on what I wanted to do with my dogs and it’s a little different for each one. For me a job for a dog doesn’t mean solely the typical working dog jobs, it means working towards something together. Building a relationship with your dog. Knowing that if you ask something of them, they will do it. I believe that having these goals and expecting things from your dog gives them a purpose and helps fulfill their needs. Dogs (like all animals) are smart, inquisitive, thought filled creatures and treating them like stuffed animals who happen to eat and drink does not do them any justice.

This blog is to help me reach the goals I have for my dogs, to stop thinking about it and start really working towards it! To help me learn everything I can about canine psychology, positive reinforcement training and to both document our journey and share this knowledge to anyone else interested in trick training, canine model/acting, or just building more of a relationship with their dog. Continue reading