Monday, April 24, 2017

Three Steps To Raising A Living Being from Baby to Adult

1. Supervise and manage their environment to prevent them from doing things that you do not want them to build into habit.

2. Teach them the things that you do want them to learn how to do.  Attempting to teach them not to do an unwanted behaviour doesn't usually work very well; teaching them what to do instead works much better.

3. When you're in public, have a plan to get out of Dodge in case their behaviour starts to deteriorate. Small beings may not be able to tell you when their environment becomes too hard for them to deal with; you either need to be on top of that shit, or accept that sometimes you'll miss the signs and it'll be better for the both of you to leave ASAP.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Our Boogey Man Toolbox

Running/chase (play)
Soccer (play w/ toy)
Pepperoni (food)
Chuck-it disc (toy)
Floppy ball (toy)
String cheese (food)
Undercover bitey hands (play)
Fleece tug (toy)
Rollover (food)
Chest scratches/face rubs (play)
Tennis ball (toy)
Freeze dried liver (food)
Zukes  (food)
Wrestling/grabby hands (play)
"I died" (play)
Kisses (play)
Kibble (food)

This is not a perfect list; I only ranked things that are commonly available and definitely not an exhaustive list (I don't usually have cut up chicken or steak around, for example). Some of the items I've never tested against each other. For example, if I were to put Ida in a sit while holding a piece of pepperoni and then kick her soccer ball, I suspect she would stay sitting until she got the pepperoni and then would immediately chase the soccer ball, assuming no more pepperoni was obviously available.... but I'm not totally sure.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Monthly Assessments

I just finished listening to an episode of the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy Podcast interviewing USDAA Worlds Team Coach Loretta Mueller.  In it, Loretta talks about how she raises puppies, and how she tries to take a fresh look at her new dogs on a monthly basis to get an idea of how the dog is actually doing, instead of just extrapolating from how the dog was doing.  Ida is no longer a puppy, but I am definitely going to apply this concept to our journey, especially as we begin to work our way through Amy Cook's Dealing With the Boogeyman course materials at the bronze level.

I've picked five domains that I think will give me a picture of how she is doing over the long term.  My goal is not to describe what we are working on in these posts, but rather to talk about Ida's behaviour overall and in specific circumstances, where applicable.

How she is in the home: Ida has relaxed at home.  She calmly naps more, sleeps through the night more often (7/7 nights this week), and is less prone to guarding her food toys.  She still chases the cat when he runs and jumps on/mouths Snowball when he is highly aroused/excited (e.g., when I come home, just before Snowball goes for a walk or car ride).

This week Ida was upset by disruption in routine by the holiday long weekend.  I normally work Monday to Saturday between two jobs; this weekend we went to visit my mom on Saturday so I worked Sunday instead and last night and this morning (Monday, which is still a holiday) Ida seems more stressed than usual, indicated by increased licking, panting, and restlessness during times when she normally naps.

How she is with meals: Ida is ambivalent about meals.  This week she was better about eating kibble used as training treats although she will still spit it out if I have something better on/near me.

How she is outside (of the yard): Ida is eager to go outside.  She walks along the street without retreating from loud cars going past, although she does freeze and won't take food until they are past.  She takes notice of dogs at ~50m away and her reaction threshold seems to be about 30m, depending on other triggers.  She exhibits indications of being conflicted - she reacts to dogs that are far away in a somewhat offensive manner (loud barking and howling, ears back, tail up, weight shifted forward), but if allowed to move towards them gives lots of calming/appeasement signals, relaxes once they have sniffed, and invites them to play.

How she is during (for now, at-home) training sessions: Eager to work but easily distracted.  Eager to chase and tug with floppy ball, but reluctant to bring it back to me.  Difficulty picking up verbal cues.

How she is with the car: In the garage beside the car, Ida will readily play with and without toys.  She takes medium-value food (Zukes) both outside and inside the car.  She willingly hops into the car.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

"If you are punishing an unwanted behavior, there is a desirable behavior you should be rewarding much more."

I don't (intentionally) use positive punishment in my training, but this applies to negative punishment as well.  I'm just posting it as a good reminder to myself that - at least in life/manners training - there are always desirable behaviours that we can be rewarding more heavily.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

A million steps back...

Ida may have more negative feelings about the car than I realised.  Today we started with our car desense program.  I thought we'd start with just hopping into the backseat and eating a salmon skin roll, something she doesn't get often and (supposedly) high value.

She started by trying to run out of the garage and then away from the house; when I finally called her back, she ran to the front step and didn't want to come into the garage.  I should've stopped there.  I instead asked her to hop in.  Which she did, and then immediately peed, then stood there panting. :(

So, we've taken several gigantic leaps backwards.  First, garage door will remain closed until she is comfortable being around the car hopping in and out of the back seat.  Second, we're working on just being in the garage near the car.  Then I'll essentially shape her hopping into and out of the car and use Julie Daniels's Broccoli Principle to build desire to be in the car.  (The Broccoli principle worked great for our grooming station).  Once she's actually eager to get into the car, we'll start very slowly with turning it on and just sitting in the garage.

We'll also work on a consent action (Ida boops the tire, she goes in the car; she doesn't boop the tire, she doesn't go in the car.