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I saw that a new thread had been started by Asta's owner and realized that it would probably be a good idea to start a thread for Snow.

Snow is the first dog that I have ever had the responsibility of training from bringing him home as a puppy, and of course I've added the extra difficulty of trying to train him well enough to be a service dog. I've made quite a few mistakes along the way, but we are making progress.

We are currently mainly focused on the skills to pass the CGC. Right now our biggest struggles in no particular order are:

1. Reacting to people and dogs with excitement
2. Slow response to commands
3. Fear of the Grooming Table
4. Fear of Stairs

I've got a strategy in place for the grooming table, and have seen significant progress. I've got the grooming arm on the table backwards so that I can use it on him with him standing on the floor. The last few times when grooming him, I've been using treats to encourage him to willingly put his head through the grooming loop. I then give him praise for relaxing and letting me do tasks, with the occasional reinforcement of a treat. Then several treats at the end of grooming with extra praise when we've completed the grooming session. I've seen significant progress with this approach and made it through a longer grooming session yesterday very successfully.

With the stairs we've got him to the point where he will go up and down them, but he tends to charge up and down them as fast as he can as if trying to get it over as soon as possible. This is problematic since he could easily knock someone down that is on the stairs at the same time and if he's on a leash there's the possibility of pulling the person on the other end off balance.

I think that to get better response to commands and decrease his reactiveness to the presence of other animals and people, I'll need to work on attention and focus games. Unfortunately I've been really floundering when it comes to figuring out how to do these games. I've seen lots of mention of "look at that" and some other games, but I just don't seem to be doing them right. Sigh.
 

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I love seeing new training blogs starting here!

As an fyi related to grooming I keep freeze dried chicken liver in reach of my grooming table. I give liberal treat while they are being good on the table and always pay well before I let them off. If at any time during grooming either dog won't take a bit of that liver then I know they are over stressed or I am taking too long. I stop and pet the dog until they are willing to take the treat then do just a tiny bit more to finish up what I was doing and then more treats and we stop for the day. So I do a variation of what you are doing, but I only give those freeze dried liver bits when we are grooming.

For excitement around other dogs and people there are a couple of things to keep in mind. One is to try to make yourself more interesting than those other things. How you get that to happen will vary with the personality of your dog. You could carry a toy that you can use as a tug to attract Snow's attention back to you or you may find treats will work better.

The goal in LAT (look at that) is to teach your dog to acknowledge exciting or worrisome things near them but then to look back to you for reassurance that you have everything under control and have your dog's back. I think an important part of this is to teach your dog to have really deep centripetal attraction for you as the person who he will trust above all else. I use a game that I call the five cookie game. I think I have described it in Javelin's performance training thread, but here is how you do it anyway in case it isn't easy to find. You will have your dog on leash next to you at your left side (heel position). Use a leash to keep the dog from disengaging. Hold five small but worthwhile treats in your left hand in such a way that you can dispense them one at a time to your dog while they are sitting next to and looking up at you. Wait for three seconds of freely offered eye contact. Give one treat while showing the next one is there. Don't say anything since you want the dog to make the decision to attend to you. Wait for three more seconds of offered eye contact and give the next treat. Repeat until you have one treat left and release the dog to a jump up while you praise and give the next treat with the dog up on the front of you. Do this several times a day at first with low distractions and short duration. Next add duration by stretching out the time to give the treat. Next add distractions by having another person come stand near the dog. Wait until he looks back at you and holds that attention for 3 seconds then give the treat. The other person shouldn't say anything either and they should only back off the pressure after the dog reconnects to you. You can then add heavier distractions and duration to the whole game.

Another game that will help a dog to attend to its owner/handler is what I call "get it, get it." If you are working in an area with a dark floor use little pieces of chicken or string cheese. If the floor is light use a small easily chewed treat like Zuke's minis. This is one thing for which a flexi leash can be helpful. Have your dog next to you at heel on leash. Show the treat and toss it while the dog watches and you say "Get It!" As the dog takes the treat and starts to chew or swallow call his name cheerfully so he turns and looks to return to you. Show another treat and as the dog gets close to you toss that treat so the dog sees it fly and land. Tell him to get it and again call his name cheerfully as he picks it up. Once the dog is good at this you can do it off leash if it a safe location for that. This game essentially does two things, first it reinforces that he knows his name and it also shows him that returning to you is fun! I often use that game as a warm up at the start of training or during training if the dog is flat or struggling with something.


I realize that I need to train Javelin to be civilized on stairs on leash with me. I don't normally use stairs in elevator buildings since I have knees that don't like heavy duty pounding on stairs. However if there was an emergency that shut down elevators I would have to use stairs. I have a two part plan for this. One is to work on stairs with him on leash and a cookie on his nose to keep his pace very slow. The other is to have a friend from work walk next to him and have her give him treats every few steps, again to help manage his pace. We will start this in January. I'll let you know how it goes.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
So I tried a variation of the five cookies game (Most of the variation being a result of trying to remember it without rereading the description)

I used the same treats I've been using with the grooming table (he really really likes these) and made sure that he saw me breaking them in half and closing them in my hand. He wasn't on leash at the time and I did the game in our living room. Last night he spent a lot of time licking at my hand trying to get at the treats and then he even started throwing out some other behaviors like sit and down. I just calmly watched through all of this and finally he looked up at me for 3 seconds. So he got his first treat. Lots more licking at my hand and various other actions, and then finally another 3 second look. A bit more licking and the next two looks came pretty much one right after the other. Then there was some more licking etc. followed by the finally two looks one right after the other. This morning when I repeated the game, he spent almost no time licking at my hand (Yay!!! I really hate being licked by dogs.) and then fairly quickly gave me a three second look. I started drawing out how long the look needed to be, and by the final look he was giving me an eight second look.

I'm pretty pleased with this progress.
 

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Isn't it amazing how quickly they catch on?


All of these really help to increase attention to you and also increase impulse control. Do reread the five cookie thing and do that one too though. Don't let Snow lick at your hand but make it all about keeping eye contact. Remember that keeping eye contact with you will be the basis of getting to look at that and reconnecting quickly to you so that you don't have a dog that will lose his head every time there is a distraction. If I have some time this week and a helper for it I will make a video for the five cookie game.
 
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I did reread the instructions before posting (which is why I knew what I was doing was a variation). The part I'm not so certain I want to train is the jumping up on me at the end. I get that this is a big reward, but we've been working really hard on extinguishing Snow's natural inclination to jump on people (and jumping in general). He's so big and klutzy it would be very easy for him to accidently do some real damage knocking someone off balance. I often find myself joking that he's a pogo stick, Tigger, or part rabbit. I'm thinking I may substitute lots of extra attention and praise instead.
 

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You certainly can use some other reward aside from jump up as a release behavior. The important thing is to have a party to reinforce how much you liked Snow's attention for the game. I have trained jump up to be a behavior on a cue (I call it give hugs). You may find eventually that you will be able to put that on a cue, but extinguishing unsolicited knock you over type jumping first matters more.
 
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Stairs! OMG! My Tango will go up and down our deck stairs to potty, up and down the porch stairs to go for a walk, and up and down the 2 stairs between our family room and kitchen. Any other set of stairs are a complete refusal. My husband had to carry our 50 pound pup up and back down a flight of stairs when we visited my brother. I need her to go up our stairs at home to have a bath. I'll attach a picture of those stairs. The circus surrounding stairs is ridiculous. Help!


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What we did to get Snow to the point where he is mostly willingly going up and down stairs (although he is still trying to run them), is to put him on a leash so he can't disengage and then lure him with a super high value treat to put just his front feet onto the first stair and reward. Repeat until he's doing this fairly calmly and then lure him to go one step further. Continue repeating incremental progress until he's going all the way up or down stairs for the treat. For Snow going down stairs was even more frightening than going up them. So we started with going up stairs first, and then continued to going down stairs after he was comfortable with going up them.
 

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I saw that a new thread had been started by Asta's owner and realized that it would probably be a good idea to start a thread for Snow.

Snow is the first dog that I have ever had the responsibility of training from bringing him home as a puppy, and of course I've added the extra difficulty of trying to train him well enough to be a service dog. I've made quite a few mistakes along the way, but we are making progress.

We are currently mainly focused on the skills to pass the CGC. Right now our biggest struggles in no particular order are:

1. Reacting to people and dogs with excitement
2. Slow response to commands
3. Fear of the Grooming Table
4. Fear of Stairs

I've got a strategy in place for the grooming table, and have seen significant progress. I've got the grooming arm on the table backwards so that I can use it on him with him standing on the floor. The last few times when grooming him, I've been using treats to encourage him to willingly put his head through the grooming loop. I then give him praise for relaxing and letting me do tasks, with the occasional reinforcement of a treat. Then several treats at the end of grooming with extra praise when we've completed the grooming session. I've seen significant progress with this approach and made it through a longer grooming session yesterday very successfully.

With the stairs we've got him to the point where he will go up and down them, but he tends to charge up and down them as fast as he can as if trying to get it over as soon as possible. This is problematic since he could easily knock someone down that is on the stairs at the same time and if he's on a leash there's the possibility of pulling the person on the other end off balance.

I think that to get better response to commands and decrease his reactiveness to the presence of other animals and people, I'll need to work on attention and focus games. Unfortunately I've been really floundering when it comes to figuring out how to do these games. I've seen lots of mention of "look at that" and some other games, but I just don't seem to be doing them right. Sigh.
I will be watching and learning from your posts. Best wishes!

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I love seeing new training blogs starting here!

As an fyi related to grooming I keep freeze dried chicken liver in reach of my grooming table. I give liberal treat while they are being good on the table and always pay well before I let them off. If at any time during grooming either dog won't take a bit of that liver then I know they are over stressed or I am taking too long. I stop and pet the dog until they are willing to take the treat then do just a tiny bit more to finish up what I was doing and then more treats and we stop for the day. So I do a variation of what you are doing, but I only give those freeze dried liver bits when we are grooming.

For excitement around other dogs and people there are a couple of things to keep in mind. One is to try to make yourself more interesting than those other things. How you get that to happen will vary with the personality of your dog. You could carry a toy that you can use as a tug to attract Snow's attention back to you or you may find treats will work better.

The goal in LAT (look at that) is to teach your dog to acknowledge exciting or worrisome things near them but then to look back to you for reassurance that you have everything under control and have your dog's back. I think an important part of this is to teach your dog to have really deep centripetal attraction for you as the person who he will trust above all else. I use a game that I call the five cookie game. I think I have described it in Javelin's performance training thread, but here is how you do it anyway in case it isn't easy to find. You will have your dog on leash next to you at your left side (heel position). Use a leash to keep the dog from disengaging. Hold five small but worthwhile treats in your left hand in such a way that you can dispense them one at a time to your dog while they are sitting next to and looking up at you. Wait for three seconds of freely offered eye contact. Give one treat while showing the next one is there. Don't say anything since you want the dog to make the decision to attend to you. Wait for three more seconds of offered eye contact and give the next treat. Repeat until you have one treat left and release the dog to a jump up while you praise and give the next treat with the dog up on the front of you. Do this several times a day at first with low distractions and short duration. Next add duration by stretching out the time to give the treat. Next add distractions by having another person come stand near the dog. Wait until he looks back at you and holds that attention for 3 seconds then give the treat. The other person shouldn't say anything either and they should only back off the pressure after the dog reconnects to you. You can then add heavier distractions and duration to the whole game.

Another game that will help a dog to attend to its owner/handler is what I call "get it, get it." If you are working in an area with a dark floor use little pieces of chicken or string cheese. If the floor is light use a small easily chewed treat like Zuke's minis. This is one thing for which a flexi leash can be helpful. Have your dog next to you at heel on leash. Show the treat and toss it while the dog watches and you say "Get It!" As the dog takes the treat and starts to chew or swallow call his name cheerfully so he turns and looks to return to you. Show another treat and as the dog gets close to you toss that treat so the dog sees it fly and land. Tell him to get it and again call his name cheerfully as he picks it up. Once the dog is good at this you can do it off leash if it a safe location for that. This game essentially does two things, first it reinforces that he knows his name and it also shows him that returning to you is fun! I often use that game as a warm up at the start of training or during training if the dog is flat or struggling with something.


I realize that I need to train Javelin to be civilized on stairs on leash with me. I don't normally use stairs in elevator buildings since I have knees that don't like heavy duty pounding on stairs. However if there was an emergency that shut down elevators I would have to use stairs. I have a two part plan for this. One is to work on stairs with him on leash and a cookie on his nose to keep his pace very slow. The other is to have a friend from work walk next to him and have her give him treats every few steps, again to help manage his pace. We will start this in January. I'll let you know how it goes.
Really interesting. Thanks for sharing

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What we did to get Snow to the point where he is mostly willingly going up and down stairs (although he is still trying to run them), is to put him on a leash so he can't disengage and then lure him with a super high value treat to put just his front feet onto the first stair and reward. Repeat until he's doing this fairly calmly and then lure him to go one step further. Continue repeating incremental progress until he's going all the way up or down stairs for the treat. For Snow going down stairs was even more frightening than going up them. So we started with going up stairs first, and then continued to going down stairs after he was comfortable with going up them.
Charlie spent the first 9 months with us in an apartment building with an elevator. It took alot of short sessions with treats to make him comfortable with stairs, the ones in the building were slickly painted concrete in a scary echo-y stairwell. We had to go lots of places with different types of stairs for quite a while before he felt more comfortable with them

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Well we've reached a point where we are no longer training Snow with the goal of making him a Service Dog for my son. He's just too big and bouncy for my son to ever be comfortable around him as needed for him to be a calming presence. If we so decide to try again, it would be with a smaller dog. Possibly a miniature poodle or a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

So now the focus is simply on training him to be well behaved in general. A big focus will be on getting him to stop bolting after things that catch his attention or through areas that he's uncomfortable with like stairs and doorways. A second area is reducing his excited reactivity to dogs and people. And finally working on his loose leash walking.

To this end I've enrolled Snow in a Basic Home Obedience class. We're about half way through the class. Even though most of the skills are an easy review for Snow from his puppy class and individual training sessions, the main benefit is that he's having to work on these skills with other people and dogs as distractions. The most recent session went really well. I managed to get him to focus on me and he was listening really well.
 

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Oh I am sorry that having Snow be an SD for your son sn't seeming to work out. If calming behaviors are an issue I would perhaps not opt towards a miniature poodle as I think many of them tend to pretty high energy (but I could be wrong about whether an mpoo could meet your needs). Your class sounds good and that was really dandy that you got attention around other dogs.
 
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If calming behaviors are an issue I would perhaps not opt towards a miniature poodle as I think many of them tend to pretty high energy (but I could be wrong about whether an mpoo could meet your needs).
The main reason that I'm considering a miniature poodle at all is because of Sweet Pea who was a miniature poodle that belonged to my Mom. Yes she can be bouncy and playful, but she is also very good at sensing when someone needs her to snuggle up and be a calming presence. Perhaps these traits are unusual in a miniature poodle, but knowing one means that I'm open to the option.
 

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I think reading the need for empathy is a trait that is strong in all sizes of poodles.
 
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