Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Training before we head out on an adventure

We were up early as we had a two hour drive south and had to be at the lure event at 8am!

Viva did great sleeping in her crate and when I let her out with D'light I had lots of high value treats on hand.  Again, I'm looking for opportunity to reinforce behavior I'm wanting from Viva. Her calm behavior with D'light is something she's going to get lots of reinforcement for.

Before we headed out, we start training.  My goal is to have Viva pay attention to me - not the dog in the room. This is a goal that has many steps and our work will give Viva lots of choice in the outcome.

Anyone who knows me or follows my blog knows that I don't believe in using force or punishment with an animal. No spray bottles, no rolling or pinning of a dog, no choke/prong collars, no leash popping, etc and I do not endorse or subscribe to the whole dominance/alpha talk.  These methods increase fear and aggression in addition to deeply eroding the relationship between the animal and human. They are straight up physically and emotional painful to the animal. So, these methods won't ever be an option as I work with Viva or any animal in my care. The animal and I are a team that will work together, learn from each other while building our relationship and reach our goals together. I believe in using the proven science that governs learning while making learning a fun and rewarding experience.     Here is an excellent article Trainers With Jackhammers Need Not Apply by Dr. Susan Friedman. 

As Viva and I begin our work together, one has to remember that with each goal, the behavior we are seeking the dog to learn, needs to be broken down into doable behaviors.  This is for the sake of the dog and human.  There will be times where I've asked too much of Viva so it's my job to observe, think and either further break down what I'm asking of her or to adjust my expectations.  While she doing very well with D'light she still wants to get her nose rudely into his rear.  I need to start working on this before she meets Catty.  

So, as Viva begins to move away from D'light (she has control and choice with the decision) I mark this with a "yip" and then generously reinforce this behavior with a high value food reward.  I want to be marking and rewarding her change in behavior.  At this stage I don't care if she looks to me - I just want to mark and reward her for looking away from the dog. I will mark even the slightest turn away.  As we practice her looking/turning away from the dog I can pretty much guarantee that she'll start looking to me.  She's no dummy and given the amazing food reward comes from me that's where her attention will soon be headed. 

Viva is very smart and food motivated. I'm pretty sure she will figure this skill out pretty quickly.  When another dog is around in the house, this will be what I do thousands of time over and with her. Remember you want to reinforce the behavior you are looking for!   A longer term goal is to have her generalize this turning away behavior outside when she sees or hears a dog.  Dogs don't generalize all that well so, again a longer term goal.

In the very short time I've been observing Viva, I've quickly figured out that she has a default behavior. It's her beautiful sit - I will be reinforcing the heck out of this as well.

You can see what behavior I've reinforced with D'light... come close and up and I'll reward you!

Here's some great information (Click on the blue links) that I share with all the folks who apply for one of our foster dogs. It's useful information and really helps an applicant understand how and why I train the way I do. It also helps the dog transition into their new home as they understand the communication between them and the human using positive/force free training.

De-Bunking the "Alpha Dog" Theory

To learn more about clicker training & positive training here are some links:

Three books that I think are amazing:
  Plenty in Life is Free 

Love Has No Age Limit - Welcoming an Adopted Dog Into Your Home

Here's a link of one of my past blog posts that also has some great links - Want to learn more about Positive/Force Free training with your dog?

Stay tuned to follow our adventure!

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