Saturday, October 31, 2009

More about dog training

People seem interested in how Gem was trained, and I mentioned the clicker, so I thought I'd do more on that.

In fact, I thought I'd do a whole website on it.

At the moment I have the front page done and the page about clickers. I'll soon be adding the basic house training and household maners, and then basic tricks and advanced tricks. It will be, like this blog, a work in progress, as I don't think that Gem will ever stop learning.

The weather has been against me though. Every time I have the opertunity to take photos, it's overcast. But we need the rain, so it's all good. I'll just add more photos to the site as I get them. At the moment it's full of Gem's baby photos! And that's good too, because she was a cute puppy!

The URL is and here is a photo of Gem as a baby being as cute as only puppies can be!

And yes - she did grow into those ears!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Vision in Voice

Ooops! Almost forgot!

You HAVE to see this!

It's a new choir for people who are visually impaired, started by my choir leader, Jane. Josh is a member of my choir who is visually impaired and Jane was so impressed by his ability to quickly memorise words and music, including some pretty complicated harmonies, she came up with the idea of Vision in Voice.

Staying on the topic of singing, but moving away from VIV for a moment, I'm performing with two choirs over Christmas. One of them, my usual choir, MorningSong ( has been asked to sing in Queen Street Mall in the centre of Brisbane - and we are being paid for it, which is a new concept for me. I'm use to paying to be IN choirs, not being paid to sing!

I kind of like the idea...

Clicker Training

I thought that since this blog is about bits and pieces I should talk a bit about one of the biggest bits of my life.

My dog, Gem.

Gem is a Papillon, and is my Medical Alert Dog.

As I was a dog trainer, back in another life (in my twenties, when I was young, fit and healthy) I trained her myself. Mostly I use the clicker method.

A clicker is a little box with a metal side that you press and it makes a click sound. You click at exactly the moment the dog does the "right" thing and then give them a treat. They associate the noise with "AH! THAT'S what is wanted!" and it imprints what they are doing in that exact moment in their minds.

It's incredible how quickly they can learn once they undersand the concept - and it's amazing how quickly a puppy (or dog) picks up the concept when food is involved!

At a recent talk to Life Line about Medical Assistance Dogs I gave a demonstration of clicker training, teaching Gem a new trick in less then 5 minutes while I talked to the audience. People were standing to see and there were gasps of amazment when, without any verbal communication between me and the dog at all, she was, in seconds, returning to the spot I had picked at random between clicks.

So, I think a series of articles about clicker training are probably on their way!