Sunday, January 8, 2012

It'sYerChoice – Tugging and the Food Bowl, Part 3


Attempt #1: Luna sits on the doormat. I put her food in her dish. I put the dish on the counter. I have the tug and go to Luna on the doormat. I slap the tug on the ground while saying ‘’Geddit!” Luna pounces on the tug, then goes past me to try to get into the kitchen to see where her food is. I block her for a moment, release her and point at the doormat. She sits on the doormat. I slap the tug on the ground while saying “Geddit!” Luna pounces on the tug, then grabs it and starts tugging very strongly. Whahoo! I tug her into the kitchen, grab her dish off the counter, move to her eating spot in the kitchen and put the dish down – she lets go of the tug!!

I put her dish back on the counter and point to the doormat again. She sits on the doormat.

Attempt #2: Luna sits on the doormat. I slap the tug on the ground while saying “Geddit!” Luna screams at me (“Lemme get the food mommy!”) and pounces on the tug, again engaging in a good strong game of tug. I tug her into the kitchen, grab her dish off the counter, move to her eating spot in the kitchen and put the dish down. Luna keeps on tugging! I say “Out!” and she drops the toy and looks at me expectantly. “OK!” and Luna dives for her food.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

... And a promise

I have to make a promise to Luna.

For more than 6 years now, I have been teaching Luna that when we are in the company of other people and/or dogs, I stop training and start reacting. I’ve taught her that when I ask for a behavior in these circumstances and she performs, I will not pay her. I’ve taught her that when she DOESN’T perform, I will intimidate and manhandle her into position. This needs to stop.

WHY is it perfectly OK for people to punish their dogs in public (for things that aren't even the dog's fault), but rewarding them for a job well done is seen as bribery, spoiling the dog, weakness, and a sign of an untrained dog?

I do NOT want to boss my dog around because I am afraid of other people’s opinions when I do what I know is right. I want to PROUDLY give my dog a treat, or a toy, or something else she likes in that moment, to reward her for doing what I ask.

So, this is my promise;

Dear Luna, from now on, I will do my absolute best to TRAIN you, to be your TEACHER rather than a bully, I will PAY you for a job well done, and I will TEACH you what to do if you don’t know it, no matter who might be watching us.

Whenever I catch myself being a bully, whenever I catch myself being reactive, I will immediately stop, re-teach what I want you to do, and then I will ASK you to do it and PAY you for doing it!

There. And it's public now, too. :D

Goals for 2012

I’ve agreed to follow Stacey Braslau-Schneck’s idea to train our dogs for 12 minutes each day for the entire month of January.

As a way of finding out WHAT I will be training during those 12 minutes a day, here’s a list of my goals for this year.

1) “Zitten!”
2) Whistle Sit; ‘Piew!’
3) “Lie Down!”
4) Down on Hand Signal (From Left shoulder to Right hip & from Right shoulder to Left hip)
Default behavior (in a training session, when not asked to do something) should be STAND.

1 & 2) A solid RECALL to whistle ‘tu-tu-tu-tu!’ on the Acme 211,5 and voice cue; “meisje kom!”
3) RELAX on cue
4 & 5) Solid SIT STAY, able to stop her anywhere on voice cue “Zitten!” & whistle ‘piew!’
6) Solid DOWN STAY, an immediate drop, able to stop her anywhere on voice cue “Lie Down!” & hand signal (can then be combined with Sit whistle)
7) DEFAULT ZEN; food in hands Zen, food on tables Zen, food falling Zen, food on the floor Zen, open door Zen, CAT ZEN(? we need it, but I'm not sure I want to commit to it...), tossed balls Zen, food-lady Zen
8) CUED ZEN; verbal cue for Zen is “No.” I will train this behavior up to L4 before I start asking for it in daily life.
8) DEFAULT LOOSE LEASH; if she ever starts to think of pulling, I will back up at least 3 steps, have her Sit at my side, wait for calmness, then continue on. If she spots someone or something she wants to go to, I will make note of where we are at that moment, and if at any time toward that focal point she thinks of pulling, I will walk all the way back to our starting point and ask for a Sit at my side. Then we try again. NO EXCUSES!
9) NAME RESPONSE; any time I say her name, I will pay her. Any time I say her name, I want her to Look at me.
10) COLLAR GRAB; conditioned to the point of happy response (smiling face, bright eyes, pricked ears, tail wag) whenever I reach for her collar

1) If I need her to stop doing something; I will EITHER say her Name (and then offer an alternative behavior) cue Zen or ask for a Recall ONCE. If she responds by MOVING HER FACE AWAY from the thing she was engaged with, I will click and pay handsomely. If she doesn’t respond to ONE request, I will walk up to her and remove her with a Collar Grab, then give her another chance to do what I asked. If she needs my help twice, I will put her on leash and pay her for a Sit Stay at my side. I might then later give her another chance.

2) Train in Real Life; In the company of other people and/or dogs, instead of ignoring Luna and allowing her to practice reinforcement stealing and making her comply, I will take that opportunity to TEACH DEFAULT ZEN, NAME RESPONSE, LOOSE LEASH, SIT STAY, DOWN STAY, RECALLS.

3) I will always have a handful of other treats mixed in with her kibble, to offer a random surprise. I will use these treats whenever I happen to grab one, and not to specifically reinforce special responses. They should be a surprise, not a planned event. If any are left by dinnertime, I will take them out and use them the next day. She will not get the special treats for dinner.

4) Train by the handful, no longer than 3 – 5 minutes per session, 4 sessions a day.

5) I will TEACH a behavior ‘in the lab’, get it fluent & under stimulus control, then start integrating it in daily life.

6) After teaching a behavior, I will pay for EACH AND EVERY correct response for at least 30 days before I start asking for a little faith.