Thursday, December 26, 2013

Books and Dumbbells

I have been burning through books like crazy over the past few weeks, and of course a fair amount of them have been dog books.  I thought I would share...

Pawprints in My Soul by Lou Dean
I picked this up for a buck at the most recent library book sale in my town.  Thin book, quick read.
Kid growing up on a big farm with her dog and family.  Her parents aren't getting along, divorce is on the horizon.  She wants her parents to stay together and teams up with her dog Shorty to try to save the marriage.
This book took me way longer to finish than a 159 page book should, I just couldn't get into it.  There was nothing particularly wrong with it, though, and it was a cute story from a kid's perspective.

The Other End Of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs by Patricia McConnell
Nope!  I had never read this before!  I have actually read very few of the Big Name books in intelligent dog training (I have stuck mostly to memoir-type dog books.)  My interest in training is (obviously) growing, and so will my "to read" list.
I loved this book.  Of course.  It is richly informative and interesting at the same time.  (My brain can shut down if there is too much Intelligence coming my way.  Truth.)  I felt like I learned plenty on how to relate to my own dogs in ways that make sense to them.  And that is the way that it should be.  Dogs are intelligent, thinking and feeling creatures and I owe it to my dogs to learn to "speak their language" - especially if I want to be in a partnership with them in the agility/rally/obedience ring.  I am grateful that this book exists and could probably stand to reread it to fully absorb all of the information presented here.

A New Leash On Death by Susan Conant
One of my absolute favorite "guilty pleasure" book series is "The Cat Who..." series by Lillian Jackson Braun.  They are short little mystery books that I can finish in less than a day and they are ridiculously fun to read.
So I was pretty delighted to find a similar series about...dogs!  This book is the first in the series, our hero is "Holly Winter".  It opens in Obedience practice!  I felt like I was back at "club night" in the ADTC.  It was really fun to read a book where the character's world centered around competitive obedience.
Well of course someone is murdered (choked with his leather dog leash!) and the mystery has to be solved...  I look forwards to reading more of these books!

The Clicked Retriever by Lana Mitchell
When Perri and I took the "Intro to Retrieve" class, I overheard that our class material was based on this book.  It was.
I read this on my Kindle App for iPad and was a highlighting fool.  The book leads off with some Clicker 101 which was a helpful reminder and then it tells you how to shape your retrieve from the ground up, with troubleshooting.  The dumbbell, gloves and articles are covered here.
I predict this will be an absolute favorite of mine in the years to come.
For advanced clicker trainers, perhaps much of the book would be a review, but for me there was a lot of new stuff.  Especially the reminder to continue clicking within your chain of behaviors to strengthen the entire chain.  (For instance, it was a great reminder that when Perri reaches or walks to TAKE the dumbbell, click her for moving fast!  Not just when she gets to the dumbbell and picks it up.  This will give her a tremendous confidence boost.

"It's when trainers become serious that dogs also become serious, and then they become worried.  Worry leads to mistakes, fear of being wrong, and a failure to work.  Keeping it light can prevent stress from entering into your retrieve." If this isn't a motto for me to live by, I don't know what is.

"It stands to reason that if you are going to throw crooked, always throw a little to the left.  This is especially important on the Retrieve Over High Jump exercise." did not think of this! (of course, I never think of anything.)  I know I am going to be a horrible dumbbell thrower, so I really thought this was some welcome advice.

"Reluctant or "slow" dogs, however, often make the best retrievers because their trainers are not able to bypass any steps in shaping the TAKE and hold behaviors." let's hope so!  Because of Perri's low confidence, we seem to stall out and progress at a crawl, so I can only hope that someday that will actually be good for something.

But speaking of retrieves and dumbbells...this is Perri's latest break through behavior and I am very proud of her.  One day at a time.

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