Tonight Gracie was super excited and just wanted to be out front during her walk. She had done so well the last two weeks but this week was definitely a set back. But, to be honest, I did expect this at some point since she is unable to practice during the week.
A 15-month old German Shorthaired Pointer, Gretel is in need of basic obedience. She is a big jumper when people come in the house, so the first thing we did was reinforce her Sit and Down, then we taught the Off command. She gets excited easily so we have to be careful how we respond with our verbal praise.
“Because of the dog's joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift. It is not the least reason why we should honor as well as love the dog of our own life, and the dog down the street, and all the dogs not yet born. What would the world be like without music or rivers or the green and tender grass? What would this world be like without dogs?”
― Mary Oliver, Dog Songs
We had a follow-up session with Cooper. He is an extremely sociable boy and gets very excited when he is out and meets new people, or when he goes to doggy daycare. We met at Petco, knowing that a lot of people and dogs would be there. Sure enough, when the doors opened Cooper tried to pull his way in. As soon as he did I had the client turn around and come back out. After several repetitions Cooper was able to walk calmly into the store.
What did I say about Gracie last week? Best. Walk. Yet. Well, last week is now the second best! Gracie keeps making great progress.
Keurig is a hound dog and, like most dogs, is infatuated by squirrels while on his walk. But his owner has worked hard on the Leave It command and it worked very well to regain his attention. I also explained the Opposition Reflex to his owner, and when she realized she was keeping almost constant tension on the leash, she relaxed and he walked much better.
Tonight we were going to work on Off, though Baxter is not a big jumper but his brother Colby is, so we used him to demonstrate. We also taught Come When Called by playing some hide-n-seek, and Baxter did very well with that. We then went outside but the distractions got the better of him. Baxter needs more reinforcement in a low-distraction environment before doing more outside work.
Red Dog is a young (1.5 years) Australian Kelpie who needs some help with his Recall. We actually began his first session be reinforcing is Sit and Down, since they are so important as foundation commands. We did work on his recall a little bit, but when doing so I noticed that he is a little anxious to cars going by. Next session we will do some desensitization and counterconditioning work.
Motivation: the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.
My clients learned a valuable lesson tonight; how motivation affects dog training. We were practicing Maslow's recall and he would fly to me when I called him, but was hesitant to go to his owners. Why? String cheese! The rewards I was giving him were more motivating than what his owners were giving him. When they switched to cheese his recall improved dramatically. It's all about the motivation.
Jeff Dentler, CPDT-KA, FFCP, CTDI