Friday, October 7, 2016

Week 4 update

I promised cute photos, I didn't say they'd be relevant
I have had a lot of epiphanies this week.  In addition to the other podcasts that I've added to my playlist, I've started listening to Bad Dog Agility.  It's about agility, which is relevant, but a lot of the guests that they've had on have had some very applicable insights for all dogs, not just performance or sport dogs.  More specifically, they interviewed Kathy Sdao, a dog trainer who got her career started with training marine mammals, and she points out that there are principles used in marine mammal training that -for some reason - has not really made its way into most dog training.  You can listen to her interview here: Part 1 & Part 2.  Even if you don't play agility, it is really, really worth listening to.

One of the things that Kathy brought up was this idea that "dogs don't assume safety". Although I have never put Ida in a situation where she was in danger, I have, accidentally and most lamentably intentionally, put her into situations where she didn't know that she was safe. I have, historically,  through bad or incomplete advice and understanding, not been in her corner.  I don't know how much it helped, but this week before class started, we walked around the whole room, and I let Ida sniff and just remember that this is a place where where good things (agility and awesome treats) happen, and most importantly, where she is safe.  No dogs are going to jump out at you from under the A-frame; the dog-walk isn't a teeter - I promise.

This last week we... 

.... continued our work in the front yard with chasing frisbees and watching the neighbors drive in and out of the cul-de-sac.  Ida was chasing the frisbee all the way into the middle of the road (of the cul-de-sac) and bringing it back.  This is not something she would have done two weeks ago - her ability to retrieve items completely disappears with any kind of negative stress.

... she also sat at the bottom of the driveway and calmly - without stress - watched neighbours drive through the cul-de-sac, she didn't bark at people getting in and out of cars.  Instead of frantically trying to click/treat her for even looking at them, I just let her watch, ready to interrupt if she started showing signs that she was going to bark.

... sat in the car with the engine off and the doors open, climbing around the seats, eating CHEESE.

... didn't drive anywhere except to agility class.

.... did a lot more trick training than we usually do.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that even without specifically working on any "tricks", Ida has enough behaviors to get her Novice Trick Dog Title, so I'll be sending both her and Snowball's applications in at the same time.

... well, I used two different values of rewards at agility class.  Instead of always giving her the highest value treat in the ring and in her crate, she got pretty good treats in her crate, and the super awesome treat only in the ring.  I also did running contacts on the dogwalk.  We have not trained them, but Ida needs the confidence boost and right now I am not worried about her leaping off the dog walk, since she's never done it before, at least not on the way down.  (The A-frame? That's another story).

I noticed...

... that she's developed a conditioned emotional response (CER) to the clutch of my car being depressed.  Probably it predicts the car turning on which predicts the car moving, which she doesn't love.

... that in class, getting her to run, even a little bit, boosts her confidence tremendously.  Also she doesn't know at all how to weave, and I need to figure out how to make a 2x2 system so that I can teach her.

This next week I plan to...

... continue not driving anywhere.

... not do much, really, since I'll be busy all long weekend, which will eat up more than half of my normal daylight (i.e., afternoon) training days.... maybe we'll have to try some things in the dark in the morning instead.