Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Lessons from Practical Living, Class Four

(Woops, I missed a post about Class Three)

Today, Duke was a champ! No incidents of howling in class and he was focused the whole time. A few factors playing into his outstanding performance:

1) He's had bouts of diarrhea in the last few weeks due to a diet switch and eating a lot of melting food from the streets. He's feeling better. Illness or injury plays a huge part in reactivity.

2) We fast him on school nights so he's more motivated to do work. Basically he gets a very small breakfast and that's it all day. This just increases his motivation and drive for food reward.

3) We also put cheddar cheese into the treat bag (thereby increasing the value of the rewards)

We were able to walk by many dogs in class, and have many dogs walk by us, and Duke either held it together or we were able to put him in a backaway.

In today's class we learned:

1) Down stay while reading the newspaper
2) Down stay while getting up to go to the door and come back
3) Down stay while other dogs are recalled (Last year, Duke couldn't do this in Step Ahead - he'd recall to the arms of other dog owners calling COME - this year he nailed it!)
4) Go to your Bed
5) Emergency stay mid-recall (see video)

Well done Dukey!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Lessons from Practical Living, Class Two

Tonight was not so good a class for Duke's on leash aggression.

We got there about 20 minutes early and because the class is so full (12 dogs?) the lobby area was rammed and we were too nervous to go in. As we paced outside in the cold for 15 minutes, Duke was very sensitive and howled at pretty much every dog that was going in or coming out or going by. By the time we got into class, Duke's brain was tired out so he was only able to give us about 20 minutes of good work.

The big lesson we learned here is it is probably better to arrive just before class is about to get started. The lobby will be empty, and we won't waste Duke's energy outside the building or trying to get into the building without incident. Dogs only can focus for so long before they get tired and lose interest so its best to quit ahead. In fact, with 10 minutes left in the class, when a freezed dried liver delicacy put in front of his nose did nothing for him.

Some pluses - For every one time Duke howled at one of the dogs in class there were dozens of times he chose not to, and we were able to leave the facility and have Duke walk by two dogs at close proximity without any fuss.

We'll get it right next week!

Agenda from this week's class:

- Loose leash walking review
- Sit with your dog in down position, while other dogs circle your dog
- "Leave it" with food on the counter
- Back up - have your dog walk backwards
- "May I pet your dog?" - stranger pets your dog without him jumping up or acting silly
- "Hello how do you do?" - stranger approaches you but does not want to touch the dog
- Meet a dog on leash and recall from dog