Friday, November 28, 2014

What to do without a foster dog in the house?!

During the last break we had between foster dogs, Catty and I did a lot of training around nail trims. Here's the series of posts  Using force free training to work through the dreaded nail trim  We are still using this method and nail trims are now easy and fun for Catty!

During this short break it's time to work with D'light around his nail trimming concerns.  For D'light the nail trims are a pretty traumatic event and we've tried a lot of different things to ease the fear of the nail trims. So my goal is to use the nail trimmers as little as possible and empower D'light to trim his own nails.  I"m optimistic about this new plan and even if it doesn't give us the results we are hoping for - we are going to have a fun time together!  Remember that when using positive training it also builds confidence and strengthens the relationship between us so, it's a win win!

So, off we go... Brett found a board for me and attached a sheet of sand paper to it.  D'light still gets nervous with new items in the environment so we are going to really break this down into small doable steps and again have fun.

What we are working with: board with sandpaper, fit paw and cooked turkey

We start off with a very high value reward (cooked turkey) and my intention is to mark with a "yip" when D'light walks onto the board.  This is our first attempt and I don't care where he's walking on the board as we will get that taken care of down the road in our training.  Way to go D'light!

After a bit of working on the board I grab my trusty fit paw.  My plan is to use the fit paw to work on reinforcing the scraping motion that I eventually want him to do on the board.  For D'light, doing target behavior on the fit paw isn't new  - we've worked on targeting in the past and that's what we are basically doing here with just a little bit of a spin on it. Again I am working at capturing that scraping motion rather than just touching the fit paw with his paw. And lucky for me he's using both paws. Way to go D'light!

This was session one and it was about a 10 minute session - not long at all.  But, this was long enough for D'light.  I want him to have fun and build excitement for the next day when we work on this again.  Both of us had fun and we are going to be doing this daily, building on the previous steps.  If we get stuck then we go back to the step that worked and continue working on that until we can move to the next step.

Training isn't about who can do what the fastest - it's about learning in a safe and fun environment with a trainer that can be trusted.   And for the human we need to work with the dog in front of us at that moment.  Often times we fail our dogs by having unreasonable exceptions, low value reinforcers, unreasonable timelines, not reiforcing as often as we should, poor timing around marking the behavior we are asking the dog to learn and we are pushing the dog to quickly.  We blame the dog for not being smart enough and shame on us.  This behavior on our part erodes the relationship and doesn't create a safe and fun learning environment for the learner which is our dog.  If the dog is struggling that means the human need to look at what they are doing in their messaging.  I love my dogs for what they teach me everyday I look forward to this fun training adventure with D'light!  Oh and if you heard that dog bark in the second video, that was Catty.  She was frustrated that she wasn't training.  So, she spent some time in a closed room with a frozen kong to keep her busy while D'light and I worked. However, I did let her out a bit later to see what D'light had been doing - stay tuned to watch her hilarious self!


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