Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Training: The Tip of the Iceberg

With anticipation of the behaviorist visit we were all in high spirits. I didn't really know what to expect with the trainer. I was happy she was coming to our home and from there I didn't know what else we could anticipate.
More training? As long as I can have treats!
When she arrived I knew she was going to be awesome right away. Barry promptly greeted her and then stuck his face in her bag. She asked a few questions and the first part consisted of all of us talking about Barry and getting to know one another. She ascertained that Barry's age is closer to a year and half rather than 2 as we assumed. That actually was a kind of a relief to hear. She also mentioned that he has a lot of puppy-type behaviors and it's very typical for that age group. Also, dogs aren't considered adults until they are 24 months old. The initial meeting/consultation with her was so informative and really gave us so much to think about and feel good about.

Listening closely to my new instructions...
We started with a marker word - yes. She showed us how to do this and it seemed to work well. Then we moved on to eye contact. Barry is alright at eye contact but as I've mentioned in previous posts he does okay sometimes and not so much other times. It's iffy once we are outdoors. As we worked on the eye contact method inside we noticed how quickly Barry was figuring this all out. He got it quickly and we marked the eye contact with 'yes' and then gave him a treat. After that we put him on his leash and walked him around our living area. She showed us some correction techniques (a simple back up and stop/wait), and a targeting technique as well. The target is for getting Barry back to your side or wherever you want him to be by using your palm. He comes to your palm and taps it with his nose and he gets a treat. That has been the most difficult thing we've worked on with him so far. He hasn't been able to completely understand the target technique yet but it's improved and with more practice he'll get it.

Going for the 'target'.
Getting a reward for hitting the target!
As a bonus she showed us how to set a boundary with Barry when playing tug-of-war with him with the rope toy. Usually tug-of-war consists of us holding to one end of the rope and Barry yank, yank, yanking away until it comes loose from our hands and then he goes off to chew it. He doesn't like to give up the rope. If you pick it up he'll jump at the rope thinking you're playing with him. With the new technique Megan showed us we hold the rope up and do not allow Barry to begin playing with it until he looks us in the eye (which he got nearly immediately).

Don't look at the rope... don't look at the rope...don't look at the rope...
And the reward for keeping eye contact:

Then we hold tight to both ends of the rope and Barry gets the middle. We do a bit of back and forth tugging and then say, "Drop it." If he drops it we say, 'yes', then give him a treat and then start over again to play. If he doesn't drop it we put the rope in between our legs to steady it and make it not so fun for Barry anymore as the rope is steadied and not giving to his tugs.

At this point he'll either drop it or continue to tug at it. If he lets go we turn away from him and the game is over for the moment. If he doesn't let go one of us intervenes with a treat to lure him off the rope. Once he has let go we'll again turn away from him and the game is over at that moment.

Husband's back turned to Barry and Barry staring at his
reflection in the sliding glass door.
He has done really well with this, surprisingly. He's not perfect but he's shockingly close.

I think Megan stayed for around 2 hours. We went with a training package from her because Barry will need a few more sessions and we'll need to learn some more things. She'll come over on Sundays for an hour and show us more techniques. I'm totally stoked about it too.

Overall - the consultation session turned out to be partial magic. Partial. We still have to work with Barry on all that we learned and be consistent with him but literally the day after her first session we were so impressed with Barry's behavior on walks (still pulling - that hasn't changed yet) that we had to fight back tears of joy. Barry has been an amazing addition for us. He's also been a great challenge. In the end it's the work we put in that is revealed in how well Barry does. I'm so excited for the next steps!

Once we were done with all of our practicing and working on new
techniques this is what happened to Barry. Yes, he is a mouth breather.

No comments:

Post a Comment