First day, foundation work– also anyone do bridge and target training?

@eeeefarm:

I think the very best dogs "disobey" when their reasoning tells them it is the right course of action.

Yes! That's the ultimate grail–a dog with the confidence to use the physical and behavioral tools he has, and the good sense to apply them when both beneficial and not specifically ordered. Good boy, BC!
I would like her to be able to work out of eyesight from me, and to do that reliably I will need to figure out how to communicate that we get to chase more bunnies if she lets me tell her where to hunt, when to enter the brush, etc. When she has put a few miles on and knows the ropes, it'll become her job to strategically break the rules based on her much keener skills than mine. Eventually I hope to be able to teach her to break the rules when it also benefits the hawk.

I say this like I have the confidence to pull it off. I know how to motivate a hawk to aim for these goals, but this little squiggle-tail is a whole lot smarter than a hawk and probably me. ;0)
I love the hide and seek game idea!!! I will be adding on woodsy terrain in a couple weeks and will definitely play that game with her, thanks!

Day 3:
Went back to the first park. There were a dozen or people on a walking track around the outside fencing, and they made for good distractions. We got in three or four excellent returns and a lot of great "follow-on" action. We finished that romp, and I picked her up, carried her out of the fenced area toward the car. Some sourpuss saw us and came over, I asked her if she would be interested in petting her, that we are practicing manners and socializing, and she told me that there should be signs up saying "no dogs" (there are actually two "dogs welcome in fenced areas signs"). I thanked her and let her know that I had asked permission several days ago, but she would not let it go. In a lovely "thanks, Universe" moment, the city director of parks maintenance happened to pull in right then, Crankypants flagged him down and tried to get us kicked out, and tiny B. and I had the pleasure of hearing him explain to her that dogs are welcome in fenced areas. He then come over to us, was nothing but compliments for the pup, and told us where all the best parks are for off-lead work =). I think it's a law here that public "play areas" must be fenced, so there are a bunch of good places to go.

Got home, crated her for a bit, then fed her breakfast in the form of crate desensitizing. She got a "good girl" for putting her head in, praise and petting for head and shoulders, a piece of food for up to her ribcage, and jackpot for the one time she put her whole body in, turned around, and laid down. It wasn't a focused training session, just a game that was available. I also fed her for sitting calmly in front of me. Between interacting with the crate and offering sits, she also wandered around exploring the room and I had fun naming for her all the hunting behaviors she has.

She is really fun to watch operate. Compared to our Dogo, she is incredibly observant. He lives through his nose. She has her eyes on everything that moves, and her ears and nose on everything that doesn't.

Is anyone interested in following along? I don't want to be a dweebo and keep posting updates if no one else is into this stuff ;0).
Attached are photos marking sit ("te", pinching motion) and look ("mira", two-fingers pointing in a V), recall ("aqui/hierr", palm up w fingers snapping in), a beautiful spontaneous point ("whoa"), and both dogs offering a nice "watch it" at our weird neighbor ;0)
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@mixie:

Is anyone interested in following along? I don't want to be a dweebo and keep posting updates if no one else is into this stuff ;0).

I'm following and I am sure there are others. I'll chime in if I have a comment, but otherwise rest assured I will read your posts. Training is an interest of mine. (and for those who don't enjoy it, bear in mind you are always teaching your dog something, for good or bad, every time you interact with him or her!)

Cheers! Well, we've settled into about three days a week at the ballfield/parks, one out at the farm, and three doing "parkour" walks. I think it was about day five that she was really ready to move on from the off-lead stuff in the baseball diamond. Once she kind of figured out the process, she would settle into either a neat heel, or quartering either in front of me or to the left about fifteen feet out, or occasionally "offering" what I am cheerfully naming a "long send" ("va") for something particularly interesting further out.
I started switching it up, moving into the playground/concession/bleacher area and playing hide & seek per your game, which was great. The setup is perfect; triple-fenced, never locked, and always deserted before about 7:30. So off-lead attention stuff with hide & seek, plus naming/rewarding exploration/urban agility behaviors: jump over (hup), jump on (up), stand up on your hinds and check this thing out without putting your front feet on it ("ay mira"), check this thing out & climb if you need to ("check it out"), recalls, follow-on, look here/there, go in, go under, go around, turning right and left (gee/haw), etc.

Her language acquisition seems incredibly fast, compliance rate exactly what I'd expect– based on an immediate calculation of personal reward =). She is a little timid, but I don't think constitutionally so, more like I'm exposing her to a ton of new situations and concepts and allowing her to do a lot of her own decision-making about "how" to work. She seems very game, but thoughtfully so and willing to engage stuff that startles her at first. She seems to really like sign language paired with the verbal cues.

I am itching to start with specific bridge/target work, but promised my trainer I'd give her a month to settle in before throwing that at her. I am "training" her as far as her earning her meals with different games. I'm trying not to structure anything, but just play with her and reward helpful behaviors. Like if she wants to chase, I'll throw a stuffie and play "fetch" with a piece of her food for a return-to-hand, or different "send to place" things like "on your mat", "in your box", "in that corner", with sit/down/etc from a distance. Also nosework games, exploration games, etc.

She is a world of fun. Very like handling exotics, and although I --REALLY-- wish I was co-training a falconry bird this year, I'm double-really glad I'm not, at least as far as being able to spend a year focusing on Scout. I am debating whether or not to enter her to rabbits, or whether it might be more useful to try varminting with her first.

Sounds like you are making giant strides. They absorb it like a sponge when they're young. Learning is the easy part, with a Basenji. Getting compliance when they begin to mature and question why they should do what you ask is the hard part, IMO. 😉

Oh, she is definitely questioning every request. That's why I'm not in formal training mode, and not really requesting anything yet, unless the desired behavior presents itself. One of my favorite working dog guys calls this foundation work "agreeing with everything", my bridge and target friend Kayce Cover calls it "naming" behavior. You just sort of socialize them to the world and all the situations where eventually they will be asked to work. All the behaviors I mentioned are natural behaviors, I'm just setting up situations, naming and rewarding behaviors I want to shape, for now. When I test her recognition of different signal/behavior combos, you can actually see her doing the math on what's in it for her, vs. When she doesn't recognize the word or just isn't paying attention.

My goal for now is just to happily explore the environment, help her have positive, confidence-building experiences, and to put down a foundation of communication tools.

She really is a whole lot like training a hawk. A tiny hunting machine who is ultimately largely uninterested in anyone's opinion ;0). My job is to get them to see me as their most useful asset and want to stick around. I see Scout learning and responding in exactly the same ways, only I have to work ten times as hard with her because Scout's much smarter than the average raptor ;0)

ETA: sorry, I will nerd out about this stuff for days. I've been out of practice for a while and am so excited to be working with her!

Hi!

Do keep on posting your progress with your pup; I find it very interesting to read!

Do you think this type of training would work on an older dog?

I like your approach to training. I do wonder if you know about Charles Eisenmann? He "educated" the dogs that starred in "The Littlest Hobo". I have his books. Someone dedicated enough to follow his methods would create a wonderful companion! (I was fortunate enough to see Chuck and London at a demonstration, back in the day. No question in my mind that the dog knew what was being said, and could further follow a conversation and reason out how to respond.)

http://tomhawthorn.blogspot.ca/2010/12/chuck-eisenmann-trainer-of-littlest.html

_Eisenmann had a simple philosophy to explain his success with his animals.

"A dog thinks just as a human does, and if you treat him as a stupid animal eventually he will act that way,” Eisenmann said. “That’s why I act positive around my dogs and treat them as friends.”_

Hey, thanks! I had not heard of this fella, but now am dying to get my paws on a copy of that LP!!!

@mixie:

Hey, thanks! I had not heard of this fella, but now am dying to get my paws on a copy of that LP!!!

The books are better. Eisenmann was unique and his dogs were unbelievable. Reporters turned from doubters into true believers.

To quote a reporter at one press conference: " I devised a scheme to expose any trickery by Mr. Eisenmann. To do this both his voice and person had to be separated from London. Amused by the obvious motive, Chuck agreed to the scheme and left the room. From the hallway he called to London. "You do what our visitor asks you to." "London, I whispered, "Go touch the picture on the wall." He paused for a moment then with another "It’s okay," from Chuck, casually walked across the room, stood up on his hand legs and placed both his fore-paws on the picture. At that moment, the "intellectual learning" theory for dog training won another convert."

Another example: "Eisenmann asked London what was used to open the door. The dog moved over and reached up and twisted the knob with his teeth. ‘No, what do we open it with if it is locked?’ he asked. The dog walked around the kitchen, found the keys on the sink, picked them up, and gave them to Mr. Eisenmann."

Sorry for the slight thread hijack, but Chuck is almost like a god to me, in terms of dog training.

!!!!!!!!!!!!

Not a hijack!!!! I guess I know what my next "happy whatever to me" gift will be =). Thanks a million!

Well, we finally hit our first training stand-off! It certainly had to happen at some point, I guess I should be grateful that it took this long ;0). I'm going to write out what I'm doing and ask for ideas in one of the other "rooms", but briefly she's decided she's not going to pee first thing in the morning, she wants to hold it so she can mark when we're out and about. I can't always work her out first thing in the morning, so now we're in a standoff with her bladder.

Other than this, though she's been really great. Every day we do some sort of parkour-play walk, a run with the bike, scentwork exercises, etc. She has a massive working vocabulary though her compliance is… pretty much exactly what you'd expect, based entirely on how motivated she happens to be to comply at the given moment ;0). She's a trip. My standing joke around the house is "I could have had an ACTUAL pet raccoon". We've been playing around with a little trick training, too. "Stick 'em up!" and "Bang!" are my two favorites =). If I need to focus on working her mind we'll practice something like "lay down", "down with chin on the ground", "on your side", "belly up", and "roll over", which I call "da", "da su pera", "bang", "upside-down dog!" and "rollo" and practice going back and forth between gradients of one behavior. Sometimes we'll play with putting her paws in different positions, including right/left relative directional stuff, or practice moving her body up/down/on/around/under some object.

I haven't had a chance to hunt her in a safe way. I haven't been able to get access to anywhere to enter her to rabbits. I'd love, LOVE to do some urban ratting with her, but there are a lot of poison boxes around, so no bueno on that count!

@mixie:

Well, we finally hit our first training stand-off! It certainly had to happen at some point, I guess I should be grateful that it took this long ;0). I'm going to write out what I'm doing and ask for ideas in one of the other "rooms", but briefly she's decided she's not going to pee first thing in the morning, she wants to hold it so she can mark when we're out and about. I can't always work her out first thing in the morning, so now we're in a standoff with her bladder.

This is one I have no problems with. Pee comes before breakfast. Right before. No pee, no breakfast! I do something similar at night, for the "last round". Pee = chew. No pee, no chew. I even have a song I sing. "Pee for chew and chew for pee, woo, woo, woo, wee, wee, wee!" I just sing, push him out the door to the backyard, and the pee happens! 😉

Yup, nothing fun happens until everybody's peed. Today she saw the old man go out on HER walk hour and was DISPLEASED. I agreed with her that it sure would be fun to go for a romp!
I'm glad we're not the only dweebs who sing to our dogs. We've taken to improvising a life soundtrack to the tune of "Springtime for Hitler" that usually starts "____-time for Basenjis, ______". The past couple days it's been "Pottytime for basenjis, come on, go pee!" 😃

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