A blog about dog training and dog breeding…and other sundry matters

Posts tagged ‘white German Shepherds’

Evaluating Potential SAR German Shepherd Dogs

I’m very proud of my two puppies.  Today both of them passed the first phase of their evaluation test as SAR dogs.  The test took the form of a courage test where the dogs had to walk on unusual and  uneven surfaces that moved under their feet, then had to crawl on their bellies in small spaces, had to seek out treats hidden in boxes under newspapers and bits of cardboard.  They even had a sound sensitivity test, too.

Both puppies were tested individually.  Gretchen went first and did well, with a bit of coaxing.  Tuvok, however, was the real star.  He showed absolutely no fear, especially while walking on the uneven/movable surface and the tester threw a plastic jug against a metal cabinet.  He went over to sniff the jug!  I was relieved that he didn’t pick it up and run off with it.  He loves carrying things in his mouth.

I’m planning on using Tuvok as a SAR dog, while Gretchen will be my agility puppy.

I don’t know how common it is to have two puppies from the same litter pass their evaluations as working dogs, but right now I’m an extremely proud dog breeder, and I feel satisfied that the work I did with this litter, from they were three days old,  is paying off.


At 16 Weeks…

the puppies have come a long way.  I no longer have to train in “the classroom” (the kitchenette in the guest quarters) because the puppies’ attention spans have increased.  Accidents in the house are a thing of the past, but I continue to be vigilent.  Now that I am on Christmas vacation, the puppies get more time in the house.  So it is vital that I follow the Housetraining Tip of the Day # 4 (I think it is) and be sure to take them outside during play time and after naps, and of course after meals.

Tuvok and Gretchen know a bunch of behaviors, but I’m still shaping quite a few, like the downs and stands.  We began the stands yesterday, and I have just put the down on cue with them.  Sits are quite fluent and will happen in most situations.

I’m particularly proud of my star puppy, Tuvok.  He went to his first dog show on Sunday and behaved most admirably, and did a few cute things.  For instance at the entrance to the grounds he found a discarded empty water bottle.  He picked it up and walked around with it in his mouth for a bit.  He never growled or barked at anyone, and allowed people to pet him. He stook still and didn’t complain when a vet checked to see that his testicles had descended.

I will use this vacation time to do intense work with the puppies and Athena.   The latter will be doing obedience trials in 2010.  I’m hoping that maybe the puppies will be able to do Novice at the end of the year.  I’m not pushing them, however, they are puppies and training right now is a lot of fun for them.  It is too, for Athena, who will gets excited when I pick up the clicker, and follow me around the house offering me behaviors just to see which one will earn the click.  I really must come up with a cue that tells the dog “we aren’t training right now.”

How a Reactive Dog Improves with Classical Conditioning

Gretchen, my 14 week old puppy who reacts to humans by barking, had a great socialization session today.  In my previous posts (found in the dog training section of this blog), I shared my concerns for this dog and some of the things that I was doing to help her adjust.

We went to a new shopping center during daylight hours and there were people going in every direction, but not too many, and there were bikers and children.  Everytime Gretchen looked at someone, I clicked and treated her first, then moved her away.  After a while I simply clicked and treated her for looking at people, but didn’t move away.  Eventually she was giving people “soft” looks, or totally ignoring them, and started refusing treats (I think she was full).

What I did here was to  follow the experiment that Pavlov did with his dogs.  He would present a plate of food for the dogs at the same time that he rang a bell.  Everytime he did this the dogs would salivate in anticipation of the food.  He found that even when food wasn’t present and he rang the bell, the dogs still salivated.  They had come to associated the sound of the bell with something pleasant, in this case food.

I wanted to reproduce a similar effect with Gretchen.  I wanted her to associate people and other scary things with food, something she likes.  So everytime she looked at a human, I clicked and treated her.  I didn’t wait for her to look away, or to offer me a calming signal like sniffing the ground or licking her lips.  I had to click her quickly and stuff the food in her mouth so that she wouldn’t bark.

Why didn’t I just pop her choke collar and yell “no” when she barked at people, some of my readers may be wondering.  First of all, I do not train with choke or pinch collars.  I do not use them on my shepherds, my rottweiler (who weighs close to 100lbs), or my pomeranians.  Furthermore if I were to yank her collar or do anything that would cause her pain in the name of training, she would very soon associate strangers, or other scary things with pain.  That in turn, would exacerbate the problem and lead to outright aggression, aggression of the sort where she would become a liability to me.

With the classical conditioning approach, within ten minutes of being at the plaza, I could walk her with people walking very close to us, and Gretchen wouldn’t bark.  At one point I took her to a low wall to watch the traffic that was passing on the nearby mainroad.  Her mother was afraid of traffic noises when she was a puppy, but got over it eventually.  I didn’t want Gretchen to develop this fear of cars or be bothered by horns.

So, we stood by the wall, and I continued clicking and treating her and she visably relaxed.  While I was putting a treat in her mouth, a child came up to the other side of the wall from the main road to say hi to the us.  To my surprise Gretchen looked at the little girl and wagged her tail and didn’t bark!  Now this child was close enough to reach out and pet the Gretchen (which I’m glad she didn’t).

Next we watched a big tanker back up out of the nearby gas station.  It had just delived gas, and was backing up to get out of the plaza.  Gretchen and I watched the proceedings, and she was not bothered by the size of this massive beast, or the noise that it was making.  We went up very close to it, but remained safely behind a wire fence.  Again, she didn’t bark or try to run away.

Words do not adequately express the relieve and joy of this breakthrough. 

These puppies are at a disadvantage where going into strange environments is concerned.  I just could not take them out before they had all of their vaccines.  There are no leash laws in Jamaica, and we have a lot of unvaccinated strays.  Parvo is a very common disease here, too.  I was not prepared to expose my puppies to this very high risk.

While I was at the plaza with Gretchen I saw an extremely dirty (and perhaps mangy) dog running loose.  It didn’t come up to us; in fact, after I parked my car and got Gretchen out, I didn’t see the dog again.  I can only imagine what sort of diseases the animal was tracking around.

We have a lot of catching up to do, and maybe in delaying this important aspect of the puppies’ training I have made life harder for myself.  So be it.  In the meantime, training and socializing continues.

Tuvok’s Adventures on the Town

Tuvok went on errands again today, and he was so well behaved.  Again, he didn’t bark at anyone or growl, and walked nicely on his leash with no pulling.

He sat when we got to the curbs and was only mildly curious when a black plastic bag floated in the wind in front of him.  My rottweiler got spooked once at an obedience competition when a bag similar to the one Tuvok saw floated in a gust of wind outside the ring.

No one stopped to play with Tuvok, but that was okay.  I’m not sure that he’s really into being petted by strangers at this point, but I’m hoping that very soon he will accept strangers approaching and interacting with him.

We weren’t out for very long because it was hot, and his little tongue was almost touching the ground.  I suspected that the pavement was hot, too, so we called it a day after about a half hour, and rested in the air conditioned car for a while before heading home for lunch and a nap. 

Tomorrow we won’t be able to go out because I have an insanely long day at work, but I will have Friday free, and will be able to take both dogs out separately.

Now, I’m off to dinner, but I shall take Gretchen out later.

Puppy Chronicles–Day 41

Puppies Day 39 008Saturday, October 3, 2009






Puppies Day 39 004







Puppies Day 39 010

Puppy Chronicles–Day 37

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Turbo Puppy found her voice today.  During breakfast, my rottweiler, Busta, decided to bark at the stray dogs on the road outside our house.  Now it’s very easy to confuse Busta’s bark with a thunder storm, because he not only barks, he bangs on the gate and makes a racket loud enough to wake the dead in the nearby cemetary.  Turbo Puppy raised her head from her bowl, stood her ground, and emitted the loudest bark that her tiny lungs could muster.

The puppies turned five weeks yesterday and received their second course of worming.  They got their nails trimmed and snuggled in my lap while I brushed them.  They are really  starting to act like dogs, now–loyal and affectionate.

At night when I’m going to bed they put their front paws on the side of my bed waiting for me to pat each head and wish them a good night.  Of course, they don’t sleep.  I was awakened in the wee hours by the sound of metal clinking against wood.  I got up to look:  Turbo Puppy had somehow managed to get Cody’s collar undone and was walking around my room with it in her mouth.  Cody sat down looking quite confused.

I rescued the collar.  Not only is it dangerous should the puppy eat the treads from it, but it’s blue, and I haven’t seen another one like it in the stores.  My shepherds are almost identical, and I tell them apart in a pinch by the color of their collars:  Cody wears blue and Athena wears purple.  Mix the colors and pandemonium could ensue

I’m planning on keeping one of the puppies, so I’ll have to find an appropriate collar for the new little one.  So many executive decisions…so little time…

Puppy Chronicles–Day 23

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Puppies Day 23 003

The Screamer and Little Darlin wiped out after an  excursion around human mom’s bedroom.





The puppies spend more time out of the box than in, and they are getting bold!  The Screamer followed me into the living room this morning, and when I came home from work, Turbo Puppy was waiting for me at the baby gate to my bedroom alongside Cody.  Turbo Puppy walked into the living room and walked right up to the Pomeranians’ crate.  The female Pom barked furiously, but Turbo Puppy was not the least fazed.  In future, however, whenever I let the puppies go into the living room, I’ll have to move the Pomeranians to another room.

The puppies received their second dose of worm medicine, and once again, they took it like lambs.  I hope they will grow into mellow, easy to manage dogs that their new owners will enjoy having as companions.

They follow us around now, and react to noises around them.  Last night while the pups slept, Cody walked around the house with her favorite toy in her mouth:  a frog with a really loud squeak, known around my home as “Froggie.”  Well, Ms. Cody decided to walk through the whelping box among her sleeping babies, squeaking the toy.  One of the puppies growled at her.

Ocassionally the puppies have tried mouthing my hand.  When they do this, I redirect the activity to a “doggy pacifier” that I found in my local pet store.  It’s made of soft vinyl that the puppies love to chew on, and it looks like a pacifier.  Today, however, The Screamer decided to bite my ankles.  This happened just after worming her, so I guess that was her way of getting back at me.  Anway, I screamed “ouch!” She backed off, and Cody came over to see what was wrong.  That’s the beginning of her teaching bite inhibition, something that is so very important for a dog to learn.  In a few weeks’ time, these pups will have some sharp needle-like teeth!

Puppies Day 23 001The doggie pacifier that I use to redirect the curious mouths away from my skin.  Bite inhibition is one of the most important lessons that a puppy learns from its dam.

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