Fast forward to Katy turning 5 months old and hitting teenage hood, LOL, she is cheeky and full of it, she is so confident and willing to try anything and so training has really begun, and I have had to step up my game and not be as sloppy, which has made me long for my blogger friends and to track our progress.
BACK TO BASICS:
Way back when I first took Susan Garretts Recallers- a baseline assignment was to list in order your dogs distractions. We were just to think of all the things that are challenging for our dogs, from the easy to handle distractions to the really hard challenges for dogs to ignore and work through.
The other list we were to make is a list of things that our dogs found reinforcing--everything we could think of, from going out the door to different foods, to toys, being allowed to run outside, being allowed to play with other dogs, being able to go greet people, what ever your dog found reinforcing to them. I thought writing all that down was a bit silly because I pride myself on knowing my dogs. .I did the damn list and lo and behold it turned out to be a very valuable assignment. It made me much more aware of the distractions for my dog and things she found reinforcing.
So my issue with Katy now is that she can pick up one back foot at a time, she can shake hands, she can balance all four feet on a 3 in board, she knows left and right on a verbal, she is a smart little girl, with a ton of behaviors but....recalls, what are those? We used to have a beautiful, awesome recall, but we misplaced it lately because she just gets so distracted ;-)
So here is our list of the five biggest distractions for Katy:
1. CARS, CARS, CARS AND CARS- she is stimulated by cars and I find that frightening
2. If Her mom is getting excited or barking or moving fast-Katy knows she needs to be with her
3. Dogs who are acting a bit aggressive and barking or posturing-Katy thinks she will go bark and
with her 24 lbs she will handle them-she is on it
4. bicycles-those are very exciting, they have wheels and move-must herd those
5. My daughter Emma who she just adores.
surprisingly other dogs running, and other dogs training or playing is not that huge a problem, she actually does really well around that so far, which really surprises me.
We have done tons of impulse control and focus games, but Katy was still stimulated enough that I found that it was super hard to get many treats in for good behavior, and I don't think I could reward enough that she ever had any idea what it is that I wanted. Bad Trainer. ;-(.
The last few days as much as I really don't like head halters, I decided to try one. I just knew I needed to get cookies into her for good choices and she was just not getting a high enough rate of reinforcement with what I had been doing for her to ever really understand what I wanted. For her it has been so nice, she does not mind the head hater because I spent a good amount of time conditioning it, and it is letting us work around distractions. We worked around a soccer field with cars driving slowly by-I was able to stop hold onto the head halter and walk back a few steps, Katy automatically sat and started playing our focus games, without my asking, it was like a default behavior. I am hoping that fairly quickly I can get enough cookie and good rewards for paying attention and making the choice to keep herself calm that we can get rid of the head halter and still have a puppy using her thinking brain.
Luckily things are going remarkably well and the last two outings had zero times lunging at cars, she has sat and paid attention to me and done easy tricks as cars pass, and she has only had maybe one or two incidents of barking at anything while we were working. She is one smart cookie and once she gets rewarded for something she learns quickly so I do think this is going to work pretty quickly so we can move onto more fun things!