Sunday, October 11, 2015

Viva and the critters

Given Viva is extremely dog reactive on leash, I'm always looking for areas to take her where she can get environmental enrichment minus dog interactions.  While Viva and I are working on her reactivity when hearing or seeing dogs, I try to hyper manage the environment for that work.  Why do this? It's because I know seeing or hearing dogs is scary for Viva and I don't want her to have to deal with that emotional response. I also don't want her to have to revert to her old behaviors of how she reacted prior to coming into foster care.  Sadly Viva had a lot of time to practice her reactive behaviors when hearing or seeing dogs so, this behavior is going to take a good amount of time, patience and training to undo.
Here are some great articles:
We head over to Madison Park bright and early, before folks are out and about with their dogs and kids.

We find some fun things in the environment
We walk through the heart of Madison Park. 

We are heading to a park I want to check out and we see a group of runners.  Viva also get worried about people and will give a low growl if she is uncomfortable.
The group of runners were far enough away that Viva felt safe enough to watch them. So, no growling. 

Then she turns to me for reinforcement!  Good girl Viva. 
What we are working on is that when she sees or hears a scary thing, she looks to me for a high value food reinforcement. When Viva is under emotional threshold she can do this. If she's over threshold she can't apply this skill.  So again, very important for the human to manage the environment for her, keeping her emotionally under threshold.

She's watching the runners as we are moving to the park I want to check out.

Pretty girl!

There are some great animal statues at this park - this is why I wanted to come to this park.

Viva could care less about these stone statues

Viva says "Is that what I think it is?"
She found something that made her lose her mind...

Up on a stone statue she goes and she's in Terrier prey drive mode

"Come down and play with me!"

Sitting and watching the squirrels in the tree to see if that will get them to come down.

When Viva gets super excited she foams at the mouth...
"More squirrels over here - lets get them!"

Lots of waiting. 
I don't know what was up with the squirrels at this park   They kept coming down the tree even with Viva sitting there. 

Sweet girl loves, loves, loves to get after critters.

More waiting. 
I decided to just stay here and let her get after the squirrels as this was really working her brain and wearing her out.  She had to do lots of problem solving in thinking about how to get after the squirrels that were in multiple trees.

My favorite picture of Viva!

More great shots

Time to go and Viva said "I don't want to go!"

Viva has an intense borders on obsessive prey drive and she's extremely strong.  You have be on full alert with her and hold that leash tight if she sees anything she thinks is worth chasing after.
Here's a video of what Viva is like when seeing something she wants to chase.
Here is how I'm starting to work with her around this.  Right now I just want her to stand still and give me a loose leash.  Once she does that I let her go after the critter.  I'm working with the thing she wants so badly as the reinforcer for giving me the behavior I want from her first. Once she gives me the behavior,  she can get after the critter.
My goal is using the Premack Principle with Viva and critters. Here is an excellent link of how to do this: 

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