Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Management, management, management - Part 1

I've created a global behavioral modification plan for Viva that includes lots of fun work ahead for the two of us.  My first goal is to work towards Viva being able to integrate into the house with our dogs. In order to have even a remote chance of this happening, it will require a lot of management of the environment  (our house and dogs). 

While all the management is going on there will be constant reinforcement given to Viva for making good choices.  The good choices that she will be reinforced for all revolve around two behaviors.  

1st behavior: for Viva to look to me or Brett.  Anytime she does this she is reinforced with a high value food reward. 

2nd behavior: ignoring the other dogs/give space between each other.  Anytime she does this she is reinforced with a high value food reward. 

I want her to learn that we humans pay very well!

I often hear people say they don't want to use food when working with their dog.  And my response is why not?   

Here's a great link Treat Please!  that I share with folks who question using food during training. 

And have you ever wondered what the effect of training has on your dog's brain?

- training stimulates the pleasure center of the dog's brain
-boosts release of pleasure chemical, Oxytocin
-reduces level of stress chemical, Cortisol
- makes your dog want to REPEAT positive behaviors
- increases appropriate response to verbal cues
- builds confidence
- your dog associate you with good feelings & fun
- your dog will be happier, less anxious and more social

And don't skip on the value of the treat - you can do better than kibble! 

Below chopped chicken, hot dogs and cheese - remember we pay very well!

In the beginning these are the reinforcers that we'll be using. Catty and D'light will also be getting reinforcement for just being around Viva and/or seeing her and ignoring her.

As things progress I can step down the value of the reinforcer but, for now that's certainly not the case.

So, we have lots of work and this includes lots of reinforcing for the behavior we are looking for. Baby gates are in constant use as everyone gets a lot of breaks for each other. All three dogs are in adjustment period so time away from each other is a must. 

Catty sleeping in the chair, Viva outside the gate.  
After I took this picture, I walked over to Viva and reinforced her good behavior.  
Good girl Viva!

D'light in "his & Catty's room" and you can see Viva outside the gate.
After I took this picture, I walked over to Viva and reinforced her good behavior.
Good girl Viva!

Catty resting in the hallway so a barrier is made from 2 baby gates.

Again, after I took this picture, I walked over to Viva and reinforced her good behavior.  Just observing and then walked away - good girl Viva!

There are times where Viva needs a blanket over the gate, creating a visual barrier as well.

When the dogs are separated by gates they do have opportunities to move around.  I'm constantly moving gates to give more or less space to each dog.

Here's Viva out on our deck enjoying the view while Catty and D'light are gated in other areas of the house.

Enjoying the sun

This is Viva's favorite spot - on the red rug looking out on the deck

"These are nice beds but, not as nice as the red rug!"

In all of the above pictures I have reinforced Viva for her good choices in behavior.  By day 3 in our house she knows that if she looks to me she gets reinforced with chicken/cheese/hot dog. She's a very smart girl for sure.

Viva does well with D'light so, I'm using that to everyone's advantage for training/reinforcement.  These interactions are always supervised by myself or Brett.  We also reinforce Viva for ignoring D'light/ giving him space.

Viva is learning that when she's looking away from the dog, she is reinforced by the humans with the awesome food.

We also work with all three dogs - remember they get lots of breaks away from each other and our early sessions with all three dogs are very brief with lots of reinforcement as we want lots of success.  

This picture was at roughly the 1.5 week mark of Viva being with us.  This is a nice photo of everyone paying attention to me while giving space to each other.

A lovely walking away and again this is the behavior I want so everyone gets reinforced.

Is all this management a pain.  Of course it is!  All the gates, all the constant vigilance is exhausting.  And I don't think this level of management will go on forever.  I much prefer do all this work now rather than having 3 dogs that can't be near each other as time goes on.

We have three smart dogs who are offering excellent behavior and we are seeing quick progress thanks to the training method of force free/positive training.

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