Home Movies

Behavior modification, training, and more

Home Movies

Home movies are full of imperfect angles, lighting, and moments, but they can be wonderful in spite of all that. Here, we share with you some ‘raw footage’ of training in ‘the wild’ - it’s not perfect, but hopefully it can help you improve your training at home.

You can also check out our AKC title videos here.

2020-05-06 First time practicing multiple “Places” (8mon)

Hopefully this video will show how ‘clumsy’ the first attempts at combining behaviors can be. I know several dog training channels use a dog who already knows the command to demonstrate it, and that’s great to teach a human how the behavior looks, but it may set some unrealistic expectations for the speed at which your dog at home will pick up any given behavior. Flerken is a very sweet, very trainable dog, but he is not a problem solver - he really needs to practice a lot to improve - so he is perfect for highlighting the patience and time it takes to get that polished final performance. We filmed his very first attempt here, and he did not disappoint!

Flerken has independently learned 4 commands that we bring together here for the first time ever. He’s been pretty solid with a combination of two (bed vs crate), but our indoor workspace is limited, so we’ve never had his target, balance peanut, bed, and crate in the same space before. This is a big challenge for him in listening! We weren’t sure he’d be able to do it at all with so many choices.

Here’s what I love about his performance in this video: he NEVER stops trying. He gets things wrong and he gets confused, but he never “opts out”, goes to get a toy, or quits and stays in one spot, unmoving. That is wonderful - that means he’s confident enough to try new things and fail without getting too frustrated, which is great for all of us, because we make mistakes, too!

He’s so soft - a simple “uh-uh” and he’s like “oops; sorry” and goes back on track. In this video, I’m laid up with a broken ankle and Philip is holding the peanut for safety, so if he wanted to get away with something, he probably could! We don’t even need a houseline to help keep him focused - just our disapproval means enough to him. That makes him so, so, so easy to train. It also means we have to be careful about how we mark “wrong” behaviors - he’s only a puppy (8 months) and he’s sensitive, so I am very generous with my “good” (continuation marker) and I often hand-signal to him without a verbal terminal maker (“okay”) because he’s much more hand-signal-aware. We try to use “uh-oh” when he choses a behavior we don’t want (or just fails to listen to us), but even that can be too negative for him when he’s trying an activity like this where there are so many choices.

I typically stand in the "don't ask for a behavior twice" camp, but I think of that more: When you say, "sit", it means "sit"! Don't ask 3 times. It dilutes the command. But here, Flerken looks to us for clarification, so I *do* ask repeatedly. He's still figuring out what these commands and words mean, and how they relate to each other, so to me it's a gray area.

Every dog needs a slightly different technique to bring out the best in them, and this seems to be working for him. Once he’s improved, I’ll ask for more precision, but asking too much too soon is a recipe for disappointment. Thanks for joining us on our puppy-raising journey. Music courtesy of www.bensound.com

Cheat sheet of commands:

  • “place” == “go to your bed”
  • “in your house” == “go into your crate”
  • “touch” == two paws on the upturned feed bowl, specifically
  • “hup” == four paws on a platform/bench/balance peanut/etc

2020-12-08 “Wait”

Practicing ‘wait’ (aka ‘stay’)

Sequoia is a ~6yo German Shepherd (or GSD-mix) from the shelter. When she came to us in July, she was fearful, shy, sick (heart worms), and had no basic obedience. Here, she is practicing ‘wait’ after months of building some basics (clicker training, sit, touch, and shorter distance waits). She does great! She only breaks when I move closer to the sidewalk where there are other people, and she even gets that by the end of the video.

This two minutes is the entire exercise for ‘wait’ that we’ll do for today - these short practice sessions where she finishes on a positive note are important to building up her confidence and ensuring she enjoys training.

Check out the video here