Random Farm Photos

The chicks turned 6 weeks old on Monday. I started opening up the pop door to the outside run for the chicks this past weekend and they have been having a grand time with the extra room. I had bought a Hen Hydrator which is a 5 gallon bucket that hangs with nipples for the chickens to drink from because I was tired of having to clean out the trays on the ground waterers. It plainly states it is not for chicks, but I went ahead and lowered it to chick height and  the chicks have been happily using it for the past few days.

The bantam chicks are noticeably smaller than the other chicks

 

The frizzles look like they stuck their beaks in a light socket

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cosmos, the youngest buckling, does not quite understand the proper way to go down a slide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The kids are three weeks old today.

 

 

 

And here is Fix – who is starting to mature into a very nice looking dog.

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Farm Dog 101: Place Command – Part Three

Once your dog will “place” for at least two minutes with you moving around the room, you are ready to progress to Step Two – teaching your dog to travel to its “place.”

Step Two: Place your mat or rug one step in front of your dog. Toss a treat on the mat and tell your dog to “go place”. When your dog steps onto the mat and eats the treat, Praise and Release.

Duration: Gradually increase the length of time the dog remains on the mat before the Release.

Distance: Once your dog is able to leave your side and go one step to the mat without assistance and remain there for 2 minutes, you will start to increase the distance away from the mat that your dog is sent one step at a time. Each time you add distance, reduce the length of time the dog remains on the mat and gradually increase the time again. Until the dog is successfully completing a “go place” at two steps without physical assistance you will not move further away. Each increase in distance should be one step at a time. Continue until you can send your dog 20 feet to a mat and the dog stays until Released.

Distractions: Reduce the distance you stand from the mat back to one step and have a distraction ten feet away. If you have been working without a leash, make sure you put a leash back on your dog so that you can prevent him from going to the distraction. Send your dog to the mat. When your dog is successfully ignoring the distraction, move the distraction one foot closer and repeat. Continue to move the distraction closer only when the dog is able to successfully ignore it.

Difficulty: Once your dog is ignoring a distraction and able to “go place” from one step away, start increasing the distance you send your dog one step at a time and begin with the distraction ten feet away again. Continue to vary the distance you send the dog, the type and location of distraction and duration of the stay on the mat.

Much larger treat than I normally use but I wanted it to be visible.

Fix moves onto “Place” when told “Go Place”

Farm Dog 101: Place Command – Part Two

To recapitulate, the first step in teaching a “Place” command is to teach the dog to remain in a designated spot until released.

To teach this you will need the following:

  1. Something to use as your designated spot – a bathmat, rug, elevated dog bed, etc.
  2. Leash
  3. Treats (optional)
  4. Release word

Step One: Put your dog on leash. Put your mat or rug in front of your dog. Help your dog step onto the mat as you say “place”. Do not repeat the command but use the leash as necessary to ensure the dog steps completely on the mat. Your dog may sit, stand or down but may not step off the mat until you have released your dog.

Duration: build on duration first; start with five seconds and increase the length of time you require your dog to stay on the mat before being released.

Distance: once you have built up to a one-minute stay on the mat, reduce the duration back to five seconds and start to move yourself further away from the mat, one step at a time. If your dog tries to move off the mat, use the leash to prevent the dog from stepping off the mat, without stepping back into the dog. When you are able to step away leash length (6 feet) for five seconds, gradually build up the duration again, five seconds at a time.

Distraction: once you are able to move six feet away from the mat and your dog can stay for one minute, start adding distractions. When you add distractions, reduce the distance you are standing away from the dog and the duration of the stay. Again, use the leash as necessary to ensure the dog does not move off the mat until released. Start with mild distractions and work up to heavy distractions. As your dog learns to ignore the distractions, gradually build up the duration and distance again.

Difficulty: once you are able to move six feet away from the mat and your dog can stay for one minute with heavy distractions, you are going to increase the difficulty of the exercise. While your dog will initially still have a leash on, you will no longer be holding it. Start moving around the room, being prepared to pick up the leash to enforce the “place” if necessary. Vary how far you move, how long the dog must stay and the level of distractions.

Fix staying in “Place” with 6 foot distance and distraction

Ready to move on to Step Two

Farm Dog 101: Place Command – Part One

A Place command is incredibly useful. Put simply, a place command involves teaching a dog to travel to a specific spot (I like using bathmats as mats are portable and easy to travel with) and then to remain in that spot until released. It is easier for most people to teach than a solid stay because the dog isn’t required to remain in either a sit or a down, but as long as the dog remains in that spot, can sit, down, stand, turn around. . .you get the picture.

So in keeping with my resolution to actually start training Fix, I decided a Place command would be a good addition to his education.

Fix practicing a Place on an elevated dog bed

TRAINING A “PLACE” COMMAND

This exercise consists of training two separate exercises and then combining the two into a single exercise.

The first part involves teaching the dog to remain in a designated spot until released. The second part involves teaching the dog to travel to the designated spot.

In training this exercises, as with all exercises, the Four D’s of Training are employed. These are:

  1. Duration
  2. Distance
  3. Distraction
  4. Difficulty

Remember, you want to build on success, so your goal in training is to set your dog up to succeed, not fail. Be sure your dog understands what is required before making the task more difficult.

To begin, you need a RELEASE word. This is a word which you will consistently use to let your dog know it is free to do something different. For example, in this case, once you have told your dog to “place” your dog should not move from that location until you have given permission; i.e., a Release. It is important that you use this word to release your dog following every command. A Release word is not the same as praise. Praise should be given while your dog is performing the action (sit, down, etc.) so that you are praising the action and not the dog’s behavior after completion of the action. A Release word simply means your dog has your permission to do something else and should not be followed with praise.

 

Farm Dog 101: Paper Plate Recall

Fix turned 24 weeks (6 months) old today. He still hasn’t outgrown the fuglies, but I am seeing some glimmers of the handsome dog he will be.

Fix at 24 weeks

 

Despite other Farm Dog 101 posts where I state I am going to start formal training with Fix, I have to admit that has not happened. His training to date has been just day to day interactions and doing chores.

So this evening, I decided it was way past time to get serious about training and I dusted off an exercise I used to teach to students in my beginning obedience classes – the Paper Plate Recall. This is an exercise I learned from a colleague, now sadly deceased, Dick Russell from Baton Rouge, LA. Rather than type it out here, I am providing a link to the exercise explained on another colleague’s blog: Paper Plate Recall.

So after chores, I put a leash on Fix, found a suitable plastic lid and put a few treats in my pocket. While Fix does know “sit’, I have not taught him a “stay” so he is a novice dog and a great example of the “magic” of this exercise. We started at 3 feet from the lid and finished, about 10 minutes later, approximately 60 feet away with Fix holding a stay while I walked away from him to put the treat on the lid and then while I walked back to him. Click on photos to enlarge.

Lid in foreground and Fix on Stay about 60 feet away.

After I walked back to Fix, I sent him to the plastic lid

Fix at the treat

 

 

 

Fix returning on a “come” command

Almost back

Farm Dog 101: Five months

Yesterday Fix turned five months old so I thought I’d chronicle his day. Since I leave the door open at night for the adult dogs to come and go as they please, Fix is still crated at night so he can’t get himself into trouble outside. When I got up in the morning, Fix was let out of the crate (waiting for his release word “free” even after the door was opened) and he made his usual check of the dog dishes to see if 1) one of the other dogs had not finished their dinner; or 2) if food had magically appeared in the dish overnight before dashing outside to pee. When Fix was smaller I used to go out with him, first on a leash and then later just to supervise, but he has been going out unsupervised for a few weeks now. I put the water on for coffee and washed dishes and Fix dashed back in to see if the dog dishes have re-filled themselves. After I finished my coffee, Fix was fed breakfast. (Again, waiting patiently in a sit until given his release word to eat.) Chores were next. After we did chores I went back to work on digging out gates. Fix hung around a bit and then went off to explore. He found a piece of horse hoof and played with it for awhile – throwing it up in the air, then pouncing on it when it hit the ground and then running laps with it in his mouth before starting all over again.

The Pounce

Running Laps

We played a little fetch with a stick he brought me and then he wandered off again. When it got too hot for me to continue, I took a shower while Fix hung out. I needed to run into town for groceries so I crated Fix since I was going to leave the door open for the other dogs to come and go. When I got back I spent a little time on the computer while Fix just hung out and then we took a nap in the hammock. At some point Fix jumped off the hammock and just laid down on the bedroom floor. After our nap, I did a little work using the computer and Fix alternated between lying next to me and going outside to explore. We did evening chores and he did a little more exploring while I was pulling more T-posts. He did come back to help me do a little more digging around the gate post. Then it was time for dinner and more time just chilling out in the house before bed. Not a real exciting way to turn 5 months old. . . I’ll have to come up with something special for his six month birthday next month.

 

Addendum to Goat Pens

I haven’t even starting building pens yet and have already had to make adjustments in my plans.

In formulating my plans to build new pens, I decided I would take the small gate off the post which had been sunk into the ground in the former sheep pen.The gate was to a smaller pen built in the corner which will be dismantled. I planned on putting the small gate at the east end of the 4 foot alley I was creating in front of the kidding jugs. I was then going to rebuild the former sheep pen only to the post – making the pen about 8 feet shorter. However, while I was able to remove the nuts, I wasn’t able to get the bolts to slide back through the tie. So my next bright idea was to just dig up the post and move it – and the gate – to the new location. My problem now is that I don’t remember how deep we buried the bottom of the post. I – with help from Fix – have dug down about 10 inches and can’t dig any deeper until the T-post next to the post is removed and I can’t remove the T-post until I have another pair of hands. As helpful as Fix is trying to be, he just isn’t up to the task of holding the cattle panel away from the T-post so I can use the T-post puller.

Farm Dog 101: Fetch and Tug as training games

At not quite five months of age Fix is starting to help out with chores. I’ve allowed him to put up the sheep at night a couple of times. While in reality, the sheep will usually put themselves up once I bring them out of the pasture, as far as Fix is concerned, behind them and dragging a line, he is moving the sheep on his own. This morning after I filled a hay net with hay, Fix moved the hay net to the cart. He did this on his own, without any prompting by me.

I play games with my puppies – primarily fetch and tug – as a way to encourage team work (and to teach self-control). Fetch because later I will train a reliable retrieve to hand and tug because sometimes the dog will have to exert some force to bring me something – a filled hay net is one example.

Many years ago a fellow trainer told me a story that I’ve never forgotten. He trained bird dogs so his puppies were taught to fetch from day one. He also never corrected a puppy for picking up and carrying something inappropriate but encouraged the pup to bring the item to him. One day he had a young pup with him in a building where unbeknownst to him someone had put out rat poison. He noticed the pup with something in his mouth and called the pup to him. The pup came running with a box of rat poison. Had he been in the practice of punishing or correcting his pup for picking up things, it is likely that 1) the pup would not have come to him carrying the rat poison; and 2) the pup would have tried swallowing the poison before he was able to remove it from the pup’s mouth. I have taken that lesson to heart and I also never correct a puppy for carrying something in its mouth.

Fix really likes carrying my shoes. He learned very early on not to chew on shoes by simple redirection. However, every time I saw him carrying a shoe, I called him to me, praised and then removed the shoe from his mouth and gave him something else. Fix has also taken to carrying empty metal food dishes if I leave them on the ground. Again, I encourage him to bring those to me and reward him for that. In the past I’ve had to train dogs to carry metal objects so I’m very pleased to see Fix has no issues carrying metal dishes. Of course it means I have to watch where I put the wire cutters in the barn because I’ve caught Fix carrying the wire cutters a few times.

Finally, fetch and tug are useful games to use in training. The following is a brief introduction to TUG OF WAR.

The rules of tug are:

  • You start all games of tug (the toy should be put up away from the dog between games).
  • If the dog’s mouth touches your hand or arm at any time during the game, the game ends immediately.
  • You end all games of tug. The dog must release the tug toy on command.

Start all games of tug with the dog in a sit. Some dogs will be uncomfortable holding onto a toy if they feel you want it. If your dog is hesitant to hold on to the toy when you tug, start with just holding one end of the object and praising your dog for holding on. The next progression is very gentle pressure on the object while praising the dog for holding onto the toy. It may take several days before your dog is willing to hold on to the toy when you pull.

Remember pups that are teething have sensitive mouths – don’t jerk objects out of their mouths. Also, keep the object level and don’t tug up where the dog has to flex his neck.

Frequently during the game, tell your dog to sit or down and give. While tug should be a fun game, you don’t want the dog to become so aroused he no longer is under control.

Finish the game by having your dog sit or down and giving you the toy. The toy should then be put up away from the dog until the next game.

If you are having problems with your dog giving up the toy, with your dog in a sit or down, simply put your free hand under his muzzle and press his lower lip over a lower tooth. Praise when he opens his mouth slightly and remove the toy.

My Weekend

This weekend was spent taking down the working pen, cleaning out the lambing jugs where the bucklings currently reside, building a second compost pile with the old bedding, left over hay, and of course goat manure, and re-configuring the former quarantine pen for the sheep to give them more room. (The sheep got moved out of their pen to accommodate the horse when a tree fell into her corral.) I still don’t know if the two new does are bred, but one is starting to look as though she may be bagging up. If I have kids this fall I will need to have the lambing jugs available so my goal is to build three new goat pens plus two new shelters by the end of this month.

As usual Tuck and Fix were with me while I worked. It really is too bad Tuck doesn’t have opposable thumbs, but since he isn’t able to help with removing T-posts he elected to find a shady spot to lie down. Fix has decided that he needs to emulate his great-uncle and when I looked around to see what mischief Fix was into, I discovered he was quietly laying next to Tuck, just observing. When the temperatures started to climb I decided to quit until evening. However, later in the afternoon it started to lightly rain and I figured it was a good time to finish putting up the new, temporary sheep pen. I headed back out, accompanied by the dogs. Again, Tuck and Fix found a good spot to observe while being out of the way. Shortly thereafter the rain stopped – and the humidity soared – but I wanted to finish up so I kept working. It then started to rain heavier than before but still something I could work in. I looked over to see both Tuck and Fix hightailing it back to the house. I told them they were both wimps and kept pounding a T-post in. As soon as the T-post was set, the heavens opened and the rain started coming down in buckets. I ran towards the house – and nearly killed myself tripping over Fix who had come back to find out why I was still out in the rain. Fix is starting to act more like an adult dog and less like a puppy. . . I’m going to miss my puppy but am ready for the next stage in starting Fix as a stockdog.

Random Puppy Photos No. 5

As a “teenager” Fix is fluctuating between being a delight and a major PIA. Yesterday he was being delightful.

18 weeks – supposed to be napping in the hammock

Today he is all “You said what?”