Tonight we taught Hudson how to Stay. He did great when we walked out of the room, even
out of sight. But a big test is when someone feeds the cat. When someone opens the door and goes downstairs to feed him Hudson races around the house in excitement. With Hudson in a Stay we made our way, step by step, to the door. Eventually we were able to open it and step inside. Hudson just sat there and watched. A good start to calmer behavior.
Size doesn't matter when it comes to fear and anxiety. It can affect a 9-pound Chihuahua just as easy as Thor, a 130-pound Great Dane. Strangers scare Thor, and he responds by growling, barking, and lunging at them. He did it to me when I met him today and, let me tell you, it's a bit intimidating! But we took our time and fed him his favorite - peanut butter - and by the end of our session we were buddies. We will work to do the same with other people he doesn't know.
Several weeks ago Miley was attacked by another dog when she was walked into a store to be groomed, after which she started displaying behaviors such as whining, being afraid of walking on slippery floors, and aggression towards other dogs. Thankfully, many of those behaviors have resolved since her anxiety has decreased. Yet, she is still barking and lunging at dogs she doesn't know in order to keep them away. We have practiced some Desensitization and Counter Conditioning (DS/CC) and today she did great with a previously unknown dog (Ash) that she eventually met, sniffed, and walked with. No barking. No lunging. Not even piloerection (hair standing on her back). Our next hurdle is going back to the scene of the crime to address her anxiety there.
Nala is so much better with people she doesn't know well, but still not 100% sure about me. Because of that Come When Called initially didn't go as well as usual. But we switched the reinforcer to spray cheese and that made all the difference. She actually started to come to me instead of going to her owners! If things aren't working adjust your plan.
Leroy absolutely loved playing is recall games inside. We actually got him tired running back and forth between us. Outside, however, was more distracting. We had to change our
reinforcers to compensate for those distractions. Everyone upgraded to turkey and he did well. Behavior is a product of the environment so we must always be prepared to adjust our training.
Nala continues to impress. When we left our last session she still couldn't quite do a Down on cue. But her family worked with her and she does it great now. Tonight we taught her how to Drop It and Leave It. Her owners told me that Nala never drops her toys. They throw the ball, she brings it back, but won't let go to have it thrown again. Within about 15 minutes we had Nala dropping all of her toys, even her favorite ball, on cue!
Ollie did absolutely fabulously with his Loose Leash Walking training. We began in the driveway, standing still, and simply waited for him to look at us. When he did we clicked and treated. We did this several times, then began to move a few steps. When he moved with us we
clicked and treated some more. By this time he learned that if he paid attention to us not only did he get a treat, but he got to move forward. We then continued with a high rate of reinforcement as we walked up and down the sidewalk. We also took the opportunity to socialize him, by creating a positive association with food, when noisy trucks went by and when he met an Amazon delivery man!
Jeff Dentler, CPDT-KA, FFCP, CTDI