Friday, September 30, 2016

Day 10: Moving Right Along

Margaret's day began with her usual training and exercise routine. 10 minutes with the Chuck It in the meadow takes some of the froth off her morning energy, and she is ready to work.

Today I used two stuffed rats as novel toys to reward her in an exercise that builds self control and teaches her to hold a Sit when she is excited, instead of jumping up to get attention or anything else that she wants.

Margaret is often more motivated by toys, play, or novel experiences (like sniffing something she is interested in) when she is learning something new, unless she is tired or hungry. Treats are motivating for her, but a new toy puts an extra spark in her eyes and spring in her step.

We worked on all her basics, Name, Sit, Down, Stand, Stay, Wait, Come, Let's Go, This Way, Bed, Leave It, Drop it.

When Debbie arrived, I put Margaret through her paces, asking a little more of her door manners each day.

 She always barks loudly when she hears door knocking, so I simply thanked her and encouraged her to come downstairs with me.

I put her on leash and asked her to Sit Stay in the breezeway about 6 feet from the front door. (Debbie had her camera at the ready.)
 With apologies to Debbie, I closed the front door again if Margaret broke her Sit Stay.  
 I rewarded Margaret with hot dogs for holding the Sit Stay.
 This took a few tries, but she showed much more self restraint than on previous days, and seemed to enjoy having a job to do.

When she was focused and calm enough, I gave her her greet cue: "Go say hi!" Then i let the leash just long enough for her to reach Debbie, and allow her to touch her hand, then praised her, which made her turn back to me, for a treat. We repeated this a few times successfully.

Good girl, Margaret!
 Next challenge - holding a Sit Stay with the front door wide open before being allowed to run out to find The Moose. She aced that!

The reward - intense play with The Moose, who is very tolerant of her teenage enthusiasm and loves to let her chase him around the meadow.

Margaret's next challenge was to wait for me outside the gate while I let the chickens out to roam free. She did very  nicely but there was a moment when I had the feeling she might climb through the wire fence, so I put her in the side yard.
 She is practicing waiting patiently in various  places - yard, crate in the car, crate in the house, at different times of day with no barking or fussing.  

She is also getting some good play time with Moose.

 Next up - Debbie took Margaret and ran her through her basics for an hour or so. This is a good way to cement learning -- Margaret learns that the same words mean the same thing even if different people are saying them - and that it is equally worth her while to do what she is asked to do, whoever is making the request.

Lastly, we set off on a training/adventure hike with Lilly and The Moose. Lilly is a recovering reactive dog, so everyone was on leash. This gave Margaret lots of opportunity to work on her leash manners in exciting circumstances.

 I used a Freedom harness so I could alternate between the back attachment, and both front and back attachments with a double leash when more control was needed.

Margaret was happiest when she was the lead dog!

 When she was behind she wanted to pull more so we had to work harder.
 There were lots of good smells everywhere. Piles of elk scat, some old coyote scat and more!

 We used forest obstacles, like big old stumps, to do some impromptu agility.

On one occasions, Margaret came face to face with Lilly, a little too close. You can see what they thought about that - but both turned away when prompted and nothing came of it.
A teeny bit of trash talk!

It was a great hike, followed by some more play with The Moose in the meadow.

Finally, I put Margaret in her crate and she went straight to sleep, no protestation at all, and stayed there for nearly two hours.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Day 9: Coming and Going

Today our focus was on recall, and leash walking in a high distraction setting, with Stay and other basics thrown in for good measure!

We also worked on barking at potential "intruders" (voice sounds from my computer, knocking sounds), demand barking (when she wants something),  modulating  excitement (expressed in attempts to get on the sofa, stealing things etc),  and general teenage defiance.  

We began with some long distance off leash recall on a trail - she loved this lesson and came flying to me when I called her. Sometimes I hid out of sight to make things more interesting and sharpen up her intention to keep me in view.  She came back promptly when I called 100% of the time, from any distance - otherwise I would have leashed her immediately. She really doesn't like to have me out of her sight for long, and is increasingly responsive to her call words (Margaret COME!) Or, when she is not as fast as I would like or if the recall is more challenging I use PUPUPUPUPUPUPUP! in a high excited tone. That almost always does the trick so I am careful not to use it unless I am sure she will come, and I have extra good treats with which to reward her.

 All that recall training had an added benefit  - it wore her out! She threw herself down when we got back into the meadow and chomped on a clod of grass.

The second part of the day was a trip to Florence to do some leash walking training in new places. We drove to my friend's house to pick her up as I had to take her to the hospital for a treatment. While she was there, Margaret and I drove to the boardwalk in Old Town,  where there are always plenty of things, people and dogs to serve as distractions.

The first thing that happened when we go out of the car was  Margaret getting freaked out by a bag on someone's tow bar. She barked and barked, so we took it slowly until she realized "Silly me, it's just a bag!"

No big deal - it even delivers treats!
 Margaret did some lovely leash walking and Sit Stays.

Then I let Margaret have a good sniff around before we got down to more training.

When we got to the boardwalk, Margaret saw something else that freaked her out - old posts sticking out of the water.

I don't know what she thought they were but she barked and barked, backing away, tail tucked. Again we needed to take things slowly and get her used to them, by moving away and then moving closer as she got braver.
 Since this was turning out to be a useful socialization opportunity, we took a walk down a ramp made of metal grating.

Then we walked along the floating docks between the boats and Margaret checked everything out.
 Margaret had another look at the posts from another angle - not so scary this time, but still weird.
 There were other things to take her mind off them though. Lots of fishy smells around fishing boats!

 By now the posts were old hat.
 We walked up a wooden ramp next
 Then we walked through the town, checking out odd and interesting things.
Very. Odd!
One of the places we walked today

Same street - other direction

Margaret practiced saying hi to some people, and a couple of nice dogs, and was good about ignoring people and dogs unless I gave her permission to greet. She still wants to jump but is less intense about it and often doesn't jump at all.

In the late afternoon, we took my friend back to her house, and spent some time with her and Sy. My friend is recovering from abdominal surgery so it was important that Margaret didn't jump on her.
She did well, with plenty of help from a short leash, lots of guidance, and hot dog! She practiced her indoor manners in a new house, and lay quietly next to me on leash while we ate dinner.

By the time we got home, Margaret was ready for her own dinner, and was soon out like a light after her big day!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Day 8: Kicking it up a Notch

Margaret has been here a week already (amazing!) so she is well settled in, used to new training strategies, and well-versed in the basics.

Now, I am rewarding less for things she already knows, but asking for more and continuing to pay well for things that are new or harder for her.

Our morning exercise and training routine drew more on play than on food rewards. We went out into the meadow after her bathroom duties were done (still no rock, still healthy and regular BMs!) and practiced recalls, off leash heeling, Sit, Down, and Stay.

Then we did the same inside before going on a pre-breakfast excursion to the beach. We attempted leash walking with a flat collar, as she had been doing well with this at my place, but the road beside the beach was way too distracting and she pulled a lot. Instead of going too far in one direction and letting that reward her for pulling, we did lots of short back and forth walks, zig zags and circles.Whenever she tried to get ahead I changed direction, so a tight leash got her precisely nowhere.  

Margaret  jumped up on a (thankfully friendly) woman who was passing by and came up on us too fast. At least she only did it once, and was easy to redirect, but still - more work on that ahead! 

Back home, when Debbie arrived, we had the chance to work immediately on no jumping. We repeated yesterday's  routine, this time at the front door and on the deck, and Margaret was quicker to settle down and less amped up in the first place. 

This way! 
Rewards for turning away from the visitor 
Sit to Say Hi!
 Since Debbie brought shopping bags we also practiced Leave It with interesting new things.

Leave It!
Good girl!
Go Say Hi 
Margaret touches Debbie's hand to say hi, and turns back to me for her reward.
 Margaret tends to bark at sounds that she thinks are door knocks. So were are working on that when it happens and at other times -- I knock and knock on various surfaces, letting her see where the sound is coming from, until she stops barking.  
This is not what it looks like. I am not counter surfing, I am learning about knocking noises. 
Knock knock, who's there?
No-one! Weird! It sure sounded like a door knock! 
After a nap, Margaret and The Moose played in the meadow for a bit and we did some recalls, calling her from play with the Moose, as well as some calming exercises -- including Sit Stay and Down Stay.

Margaret COME!!! 
Sit Stay - more distraction, longer distance.
Good girl!
Let's GO! On to the next practice.
Down Stay 
Challenging at first, but then she aced it!
 Next - some leash walking practice in a Freedom Harness.

Delivering treats where I want her to be - by my leg.
Let's Go - loose leash walking
Distracted by smells 
Using movement to make things more interesting
Changing direction to keep focus
Not bad - but could do better
What a difference a different reward makes!
Margaret showed me what she wanted - she tried to pick up a pine cone, so I used it for a reward! 
Suddenly - focus!  
Happy attention.

Perfect leash walking!
 Next we had a session with a Golden Retriever, Lilly, who was previously reactive to other dogs - now she is doing really well around other dogs, even at close distances.

 This was a great opportunity for Margaret to practice being calm and connected to me on leash around a new dog.

I fitted Margaret beforehand with a Freedom Harness, which has two leash attachment points, so we could use the back ring for sniffing and rambling, and the front one for training. We also used the front and back together with a double clip leash for extra control.

Margaret behaved beautifully, paying attention to me, ignoring Lilly, and walking very nicely with me. I was very happy with her performance - it more than made up for her lapses earlier this morning!
Moose and Margaret pretend to be dogs in a dog park so Lilly can practice
Practicing pass by's

Playing follow the leader

 Margaret, Lilly and The Moose all ended up going on a gentle hike together in the sun, around the meadow, along a wide trail, down to the creek and then again through the meadow, with a detour to the Forest Agility area on the way back.

 Margaret enjoyed trying out the obstacles and remained focused and calm throughout the activities.
Back in the meadow, she and Lilly got very close together, waiting for their turn for cheese treats!

Margaret worked hard as always - she loves to work!  - and is now having a well-earned nap at my feet.