Thursday, December 29, 2011

Canine Exercise & Clicker Training

So I've been trying to get caught up on reading blogs because I had over 300 in my Google Reader . . . I'm down to 150 so I'm getting there. In my readings I was catching up on one of my favorites, Honey's blog, and came across this post ( . . . and as most of her posts do, it got me to thinking. I have two (three?) high energy breeds, a Siberian Husky and a Beagle/Mountain Cur cross and I am NOT at all consistent with our exercising. Sigh. And yes, most of my excuses are selfish and lazy. Talk about feeling bad lol.

When we went to my parents house on Christmas day we had some fun with the four wheeler (yes I'm still working on getting the video ready to post) and Jackal was sore for a few days after that. He's had issues with one of his rear legs since he was a puppy and I think it was my fault for over exercising him on asphalt. So I have to be really careful not to let him overdo it, however letting him get fat and out of shape is one of the worse things I can do!! I also slacked off on my own exercise since I decided to take a break during November for NaNoWriMo and well I never got back to it. So one of the things I'm going to get back to for 2012 is exercising, both me and the dogs. I'll post more on my goals for 2012 on New Years day.

So for now, since we're all out of shape and lazy lol, I'm starting with two ten minute walks a day, one before work and one after. I also have a bad habit of marching off at a fast speed in a hurry to get done instead of enjoying the scenery and time spent with my dogs. So now when we walk we're walking in the ditches (softer on their joints) so the dogs can sniff around where the deer, raccoons, rabbits, armadillos and opossums roam around lol, because a dog sniffing is like us reading the newspaper. They love it! We can only do that in the winter though because in the summer the grass gets tall and ticks are horrible. We're also practicing at running, walking (while they trot) and walking slow (so they have to walk too) for changes of pace. So far they definitely approve of our new way of walking. :)

So anyway, when we got back from our after work walk today I decided to work on all of the tricks Jackal learned for 2011 (January: Crawl, February: Shy, March: Fetch Leash, April: Close Door, May: Marching Paws, June: Go to Bed, July: Paws in Bucket, August: Say Your Prayers, September: Stand, October: Recall, November: Sidepass and December: This one is a surprise!) so that we can start videotaping them. He did fantastic! I guess the walk got him in a training frame of mind because I could not have asked for better. :D

We've been having trouble with his sidepass . . . the way we were doing it before was having him stand in a heel position on my left and us walking sideways to our left, but I was bumping into him (or tripping lol) and his front and rear just weren't working together. So I finally turned to face him and lured his nose to his left while gently pushing his hip to the left. After clicking for that once he did it all by himself the second time!!! I was so proud of him! So even though it didn't look like he was doing well the other way it obviously was sinking it and my new method just made it click for him. I love it when a behavior comes together like that.

The other one we're having trouble with is Say Your Prayers. I'm having him do it on his little stool and he does great sitting with his paws on it (that took forever to teach), but he doesn't hold it long (I guess it's not comfortable yet) so I haven't been able to get much duration and thus can't get him to tuck or rest his nose on his paws . . . So for now he's sitting with his paws up instead of saying his prayers lol. We'll keep working on it, but it won't be finished for our video.

We worked on most of his other tricks too. The only ones we didn't cover were his recall (he's really good at this in the house so far), fetch his leash (he loves this one and is great at it) and shy (this one needs work, but the session was getting long and I was out of treats). We'll catch them next time. He's getting a lot more confident with closing the door on the entertainment center. When it slams shut it doesn't startle him anymore lol. I can probably start trying to work on another real door now. :)

Also on his Stand I have inadvertently taught him to bounce his front end in the air when he pops up out of a sit. It's so cute! I might let him do that or I might fix it. Not sure yet. :) He's also doing great on his Go To Bed behavior and he's so cute doing it! He gets so focused on me that he doesn't really pay attention to where the bed is. When he misses it and lays down I don't click so he bounces up, backs up and lays back down. I just laugh at him until he backs up onto the bed and lays down, then I click. It's so cute. I love his enthusiasm.

Anyway, sorry this got so long winded. We had so much fun and I just wanted to share. Keep an eye out for the video. I'm going to try to get it done soon, maybe this weekend. It may be a week before I get it all ready and posted though, just depends on how busy I am. :)


  1. Reading Honey's blog can sometimes be discouraging. I, too, feel like I could do more with the dogs and mostly I think that I don't because I am being lazy. But the main thing I tell myself is that ANY activity is better than none. So on those days when I feel like I cannot bear to walk I say, "OK, just five minutes, that's more than nothing." Sometimes once I get going I feel better and it winds up being longer, sometimes I feel like I can barely get through it. You have a lot on your plate. Just keep moving forward and you'll get there.

    Mango Momma

  2. P.S. I find the mark all as read button can be quite liberating. I have to use it at least once a week and it seems like most days lately I just skim through blogs and only comment on a few.

  3. I can't wait to see the final trick video!!!!

    A lot of trainers purposefully train the bounce into the stand. It makes sure the dogs are either kicking back or planting their feet on landing; prevents walking forward :)

  4. I will read Honey's blog after this. I have a feeling it might make me feel a bit guilty though. I don't walk Fred on a regular basis, but every day, out of no where, he'll just start ripping around the house at break neck speed, doing laps in a way, so he get's some, but I know I should do more. I can't wait to see all of Jackals tricks. That is one smart dog!

  5. Hey, you're all making me bad! :-) I don't mean to discourage people or point fingers at all in our posts - and the kind of owners I complain about are certainly not you! (or Mango Momma or most of our blog friends!) When it comes to our blog audience, I'm aware that most of the time, I'm "preaching to the converted" - but I know that we also have a LOT of lurkers who may not be as educated as you lot and so it's good to give them a little reminder from time to time. I figure that there are a lot of out blogs out there just doing the purely fun, silly stuff - so maybe it's good that we include a bit of the responsible dog owner info, even if it's a bit hard to swallow! :-) Hopefully, it'll inspire people to do more - rather than put them off! :-)

    It just annoys me that there are a lot of people out there with really bored, frustrated dogs and they don't make any effort to exerise them (whether mentally, physically or socially) - I just wonder why they get a dog. But that is a world away from you & Mango Momma & others! The fact that you're feeling guilty at all shows what good, responsible owners you are. I'm talking about the kind of people I've seen who take their dog to a park, chuck them out of the car and then drive around, with the dog chasing after them - they do this for 10mins and then open the door and put the dog back in the car and go home...and these are the GOOD people who at least have bothered to bring the dog to the park in the first place!!

    And hey - I am lazy myself too sometimes! I certainly don't take Honey on huge walks every day and gosh, I can't even commit to teaching her a new trick every month (like you've done!) - so you shouldn't feel guilty at all! :-)

    Anyway, I really came by to wish you a very belated Happy Christmas & New Year...and also to say wow, I didn't expect you to go back through all our posts and comment on them! I'm really touched - it is so nice of you. I've been really bad with keeping up with blog friends lately too so I can totally understand and I think it's amazing of you to take the time to catch up on all our posts!!!


  6. Can't wait for the video :)
    Have a very happy new year!


  7. Hsin-Yi,

    We're not making you out to be the bad guy at all! I love your posts and all of the info you provide. It's useful even for us "seasoned" dog owners lol. I know I don't exercise mine enough and your post was the kick in the pants I need to get back to doing it. I don't exercise myself enough either, but I need to. I let myself get so caught up in the stresses of work and daily living that I forget about the important things and you are kind enough to remind me of them, so I really appreciate it. Exercise is so good for all of us, but especially for someone like me who without it lets my anxiety go crazy. I wasn't trying to make you out to be a bad guy. I linked to your post hoping more readers would see it and be inspired to go walk their dogs! And I don't remember if it was that post or a different one, but it finally clicked that the walks I take my dogs on are not mentally stimulating at all because I just march a straight line down the road and back. So Storm and Jackal say a huge thank you for reminding me that we aren't in boot camp, we're out to enjoy ourselves! They're much happier already, even with ten minutes a day. :)

    Even if it takes me half a year to do it I will always go back and catch up on your blog. I love reading it. I just have to find some quiet time so no one is bothering me to really enjoy it. :) I understand you're busy with the move and your hands/arms hurt too much to comment, so don't feel bad for not commenting or taking a while to get caught up. We all understand that real life is more important than our blogs.

    Merry (belated) Christmas and Happy New Year!!


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