Our goal tonight was to teach Scarlet how to Wait - for her food and for doors to be opened -
and to Stay. After a few repetitions she was able to wait very well. However, she struggled with stay (her people describe her as a "velcro" dog). We were able to successfully get her to stay for 30 seconds of duration, but she just couldn't handle us walking more than a few steps away from her. What helped her get over the hump was a tactic I've only (recently) used once before: a tether. I put a leash around the leg of the sofa and attached it to her so she couldn't be reinforced by walking towards us. After just a few repetitions she had the "light
bulb" moment and she was able to stay, even as we walked out of the room. But the big breakthrough was having her stay as we walked into the laundry room, filled her bowl with food, then brought it back into the kitchen - all while she stayed in a sit - something she could not do before!
Today we taught the boys Drop It and Leave It. I worked primarily with Rex, the more impulsive
of the two, and he did extremely well. Rugar watched and I think he learned a little bit as well. We then practiced with paper towels, socks, and food and they both were able to drop it or leave it when cued. Well done!
Evie was a handful tonight. For the majority of our time she was easily distracted and unfocused, and we struggled to teach her Down, but eventually did. However, we then had to teach her Stay, and she wouldn't sit still for a second - literally! What I did then was stand still, not saying a thing, and just waited. When she would sit on her own I would click and treat. Finally she settled down and we were able to finish teaching her how to Stay for a full 30 seconds! It may not sound like much but it was quite the accomplishment for her.
Pepper gets extremely excited once you step outside for her walk, which results in pulling. We attempted to use food to reinforce good behavior, but most of the time she wouldn't even take it. Therefore, food isn't reinforcing in that context. It's not something she is willing to work for. So what is? Moving forward! Once she learned that pulling made the walk stop, but walking without pulling meant we kept going, she walked much better.
Jeff Dentler, CPDT-KA, FFCP, CTDI