Friday, December 18, 2015

Viva and I work on putting on a sweater - Part 1

As I wrote about in an earlier post Not everyone enjoys a being covered
Viva isn't keen on things that she feels are restraining to her.  A sweater is restraining and that's a serious issue for Viva.  If she didn't get so cold I would not even bother with helping her to feel comfortable in a sweater. But, since she is often cold, I'm giving working with the sweater and Viva a try using  Desensitization/Classical Conditioning (DS/CC)

Some dogs do not have concerns with wearing sweater here are some dogs that we've fostered that enjoy the warmth of wearing a sweater.  You can see in the below pictures these are dogs who are telling you by their body language that they are comfortable in a sweater.  We have no ears back, cowering, tail tucks, wide eyes or rigid/frozen body - those are signs of an uncomfortable dogs.

Balboa fostered 2012
Figgins and Teo fostered 2013

Soos fostered 2014

Seven fostered 2014

Baer fostered 2015

D'light resting in his warm sweater

And again not everyone likes a sweater and this sweet girl says "No thank you to sweaters!"

I have lots of different kinds of sweaters and jackets. I started with the jacket that has velcro straps so that nothing has to go over Viva's head. However, while she let me put it on her she wouldn't move even with tossing high value food in hopes of getting her moving.  She stood frozen and started shaking.  So, forget that one.  The sweater that seemed to be the best bet was the Gold Paw fleece stretch.

The Gold Paws stretch fleece is thin and easy to manipulate as you will see.

Here is how I start with introducing the sweater to Viva.  I want it rolled up so I can work with her putting her head into it.

This is going to be lots of breaking down each step of putting on the sweater.

Here's our starting point - I mark and reward Viva for showing interest in the sweater. I want her to figure out that the sweater = high value food and fun. 

We do this over and over...

Stay tuned to see our progress. This is a four part series and you will see that we are not in hurry and I'm not going to force a sweater on Viva.  We'll work as a team and see how it goes.  Our "sweater" work happens over a couple of weeks and we practice each night for no more than 5 minutes at a time. 

This is actually great timing as we've had so much rain and wind that I don't want to be outside for extended periods of time for enrichment.  So, all our training provides indoor enrichment as it has Viva's brain working hard. I get to improve my skills with her and we continue to build more trust in our relationship.

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