All posts by Jenny Adams

The Big Bally

A small sample of some of the training Mary and Jenny have been doing with Specs.  Videos are at the end of post.

Specs learns to push a big ball.

Why?  Because it’s fun.  Because the more she learns the easier she is to teach.  Because we’re planning a fitness regime for her in the future which may well require using an exercise ball.  Because body awareness is  very good for her future agility training.  Because it’s fun, did I say that already?

Our training is far from perfect.

Jenny: Lots of late clicks.  Although I think I might have got the sound out of sync.  My story, I’m sticking to it.

Mary: could have given more keep going signals.  KGS? Feedback.  Remember that game children’s game where you approach a hidden object and if you’re closer to it you’re hotter, get further away, you’re colder?  It’s like that.  KGS tells the puppy she’s getting warmer…  Can really help an inexperienced dog or a dog who’s trying really hard to work out what you’re after and not quite sure she’s on the right track.  I say things like: “Keep going,” “You’re doing it,” “That’s my girly,” that kind of thing.  With repetition the dog starts to get the idea that when she hears you say “Keep going,” it means a reward is on its way if she keeps going, then bingo!  Click/treat.

Alternatively, there’s colder.  “Oh dear,” or “Whoops a daisy,” “Again!” if dog offers behaviours that are on the wrong track.  All very valuable clues, information.

I should stick to just the one positive and one negative.  KGS: “Keep going” and fail marker: “Again” are probaby my favourites.  But I’m human and the feedback seems to come out of my mouth on auto-pilot and dogs are very kind, they seem to get it, so I’ll stick to my not-quite-perfect-mash-up of feedback words.

I think you’ll agree, from start to finish of this video set (or the highlights if you’re short of time), little Specs definitely gets the hang of what we’re after.  And she appears to be enjoying herself, we certainly were.

Did we sneak in extra training sessions with the ball that aren’t on the video?  You know, I don’t think we did.  I think these were it.  Puppies are so easy.

I think also if I had been paying better attention I wouldn’t have looked for just the one behaviour with the ball.  I’d actually like her to learn to push it with her nose as well as walk it along on her back feet.  What is learned first is learned best, and you can find yourself having a bit of a battle to get your dog to stop doing that first learned, very strong behaviour.  We’ll see, eh?

So, when I’m teaching anything new, I try not to stick to the one thing.  Work on stands and downs, heels and recalls, spin one way and spin the other.  If you just spin the one way, it can become that battle to get the other.  I bet any dog trainers reading this are nodding knowingly at this point.

And actually this reporting has got me thinking again, I’d like her to learn to dribble it too and bash it with her hips, so much to teach.
Best bits?  We were nice and generous with our rewards.  Little Specs was left in little doubt that interacting with the ball is a VERY GOOD THING.  We mostly gave more that one titbit per repetition.  And we placed the rewards so they gave us good bang for our bucks.  We gave rewards on/near ball to increase her positive associations with the ball.  Or we gave them a bit away from the ball so she was placed to deliver another repetition, so she could approach it again to put her feet back on it .
But still, not perfect and I like that.  Well actually I don’t, I’d rather be perfect.  But  I’m happy to share warts and all.  Because the most important thing about training is the doing of it.  We could have done better but we enjoyed ourselves, the dog made progress, all good.  I think if we worry too much about doing it perfectly we end up not doing it at all. And as long as we to the training, the dog will learn, they’re very good at learning.  As long as we’re not abusing the dog, (please don’t), we’ll make progress.  Always, always, just do it.

Length 8:46

Session 1
Length 4:17
Approx 15 March 2015


Session 2
30 March
Length 4:53

Session 3
22 April

Session 4
3 May

Session 5
10 May
41 secs


Round Robin Recalls

Specs doing extra recall practice after her agility training, yesterday.   She almost reported on her performance herself, but there were too many long words needed and she didn’t know how to spell them, and she was too upset by the prospect of dogs having tea trays land upon them to write this herself.

At Kirkley Hall Agricultural College, Northumberland.  Their equestrian centre.  Complete with horse scents and wildlife scents and maybe even some sheep scents.  Yes, she does stop to sniff pretty frequently, she is a real dog, but none of it stopped these lovely recalls. Continue reading Round Robin Recalls

Specs Goes Walkies

Went on a walk with Mary, Jenny, Beetle and Paris.  We did runnins.  We did recalls.  We did heelins.

Mary said Sue wouldn’t approve, but I know Sue would, I love Sue.  Sue would say as long as we do Specs Only walks a lot, we can sometimes do walks with Beetle and Paris and My Brother Wilf so I can practise my recalls with other nice dogs about me.

Jenny and Mary were brave to let me off the lead, but not so brave they took the lead off completely.  Just in case, make it easier for them to catch me, just in case.  I hardly noticed, I got my runnins, I hardly noticed. Continue reading Specs Goes Walkies

Puppy worries

All owners worry about their dogs, all of us.  Although dog trainers are a little bit not-normal in what they worry about.  We’re considerably less worried than the 99% of the population who fret about dogs eating poop/sniffing or licking each others’ bits/playing tug with their leashes.  And a lot more worried about dogs who don’t come back in the park straight away and quickly.

Serious behaviour and health problems are beyond what I want to talk about here, they really are a worry.  I want to talk about the problems we’re not sure about, the things we think could get worse, the things that simply annoy us, the things that annoy us and probably shouldn’t. Continue reading Puppy worries

Chris the Postie

So busy I missed out letting everyone know about my meeting with Chris the Postie last Wednesday.

Chris and me posing
Chris and me posing

I was at Auntie Jen’s and she did give me a bit of a talking to about jumping up on people in the garden, I did that, I jumped up on Chris in the garden.  I’m sorry and I promise I’ll never do that again.  My fingers are not crossed as I promise.  She did tell me that if I was going to have any “problems” though, that over-friendliness was the “problem” she’d like me to have.  As if… me?  Problems?  I don’t think so. Continue reading Chris the Postie

Teeth cleaning for dogs

A dog with a clean mouth is a nicer friend to have around.  He’s also healthier, happier and less likely to have to go to the vets in later life to have dental work.

In about 2005 I took my Jack Russell, Squirrel, to the dental vet in Edinburgh, Norman Johnston.  She had a strange condition in her mouth, unrelated to dirty teeth but in need of specialist attention.  Before visiting Norman I had always scaled my dogs’ teeth every so often, but Norman put me right on that.  Clean their teeth, he said.  Every day, he said.  I don’t have time, I said.  And you think I do?  He said.

Continue reading Teeth cleaning for dogs

Buzz, buzz, buzz

Actually Tuesday 10th March though posted 15 March.  I am a late kind of a person even though I try very hard not to be. And Wednesday 11th when Mary was there too.  Jackie is right, I should write these things straight away.

This is one cute puppy who arrived at my house in her carry crate for my first day of puppy minding.  First thing, into the garden to toilet.

Continue reading Buzz, buzz, buzz