Monday, July 30, 2012

Training Tails

Shallie is learning so much. We've worked on several areas. From a safety perspective she needs to not speed past us & tear down the stairs, both inside & down the deck into the yard. On-leash, she does great. Off-leash, I've called "OK" just before she runs down the stairs, so it seems as if I've permitted it. Any other advice on doing this off-leash would be terrific.

Shallie loves to jump around & chase butterflies & grasshoppers & whatever other insects she can find in the tall grass. Tonight I thought I'd share in that with her. (Im sure my neighbors think I'm crazy!) I started using my hand (my grasping tool~just like her mouth) to bat around the grasses & exclaiming for her to look  at what I found. She came bounding over to see what I had & we had a blast searching out fun stuff together.

I also tried clipping her nails for the first time. I did just one paw this time & made it a positive experience. She was hardly bothered as I clipped each nail & told her "good!" & followed up with a little bit of kibble. By the last nail, she didn't seem to notice. I should add that I've practiced holding her paws & touching her nails every day for the past month or so, knowing that I wanted to move to clipping her nails.  We've always had dogs that needed to be held down for this, so it's nice to have this be a pleasant experience for everyone involved!

The thing we need to do more on is the open doorway. We've done the 2 person/ 2 leash thing with duck, duck, duck, goose. Shalimar is getting the idea, but still wants to blow through the door if we haven't just practiced it.

On another note, I tried some horse training with my 23 year old palomino quarter horse. Ive had Ruffy for 20 years & over the past 10 years or so, he's tried to bite me when tightening up the girth.  He bit me in the thigh once & ever since then, he's kept on trying.  After talking with Peggy, I tried her advice. I started by associating my "good!" with a little bit of peppermint. (That took no time at all!) Since he's good with being touched anywhere & the problem only occurs when putting on the girth, I saddled him up & started to tighten the girth one notch at a time. Every time I tightened a notch & he didn't react, I exclaimed "good!" & gave him a little bit of peppermint.  If he reacted (turning his head like he was going to bite) I backed off to the first notch and started all over again. I was able to cinch him up completely twice. What a difference! I'm going to keep working on this, but it looks like he might actually associate standing still while being cinched up with getting peppermint & I won't be trying to jump out of the way of his teeth! Yay!!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Getting started

Shalimar has been with us for 3 weeks & is adjusting beautifully!  It's so nice to have a dog back in the family again. (Our last dog, Bailey, was a150lb Lab/Irish Wolfhound Mix that lived to about age 14.) Shalimar or "Shallie" is a quick learner & very good natured. We've been to 2 training classes with Peggy Moran. Boy! Did I forget a lot! It's really training people to read dog behavior & learning how to respond. We've had to stop ourselves from saying "no" or "off" & looking for ways to positively reinforce good behavior. Naming the behaviors (i.e.: "jump!") is so much easier than yelling OFF at a sweet puppy. If it continues we're getting better at just crowding her out, so she has to get off of us. We're looking for ways to remove  possibilities for negative behavior. Shalimar has caught & killed 2 young birds & almost got another one this morning. (Flight school for these young birds has GOT to move along faster!)  To keep her from the birds, she's had to be leashed even though we have a large fenced back yard & for now we stay away from the nests. It defeats all training to be running behind her yelling "NO, NO, NO! while she's happily racing & jumping in the air to catch a bird & completely ignoring me. (Yes, this is what I did.) I need to ask Peggy what else we can do.  This is her natural response to wild life with a natural chase instinct, but we need to have live baby birds. 
We've been working with her on green light with giving her small treats & she's catching on that she needs to make eye contact before receiving the treat. We're also taking her to places to expose her to people, cars, & different sights and sounds with a controlled environment. Dairy Hut (Oswego's hometown version of Dairy Queen) is busy with loads of people & sometimes another dog to practice some training. She's very popular, so it works great to tell people that she has to sit to be petted. She gets special doggy ice cream with a bone in it, so cars driving on the nearby street aren't a reason to freak out & run crazily, but to settle and get some doggy ice cream. We don't use food much in training & most of the time she's not big on food as a motivation factor. (except Dairy Hut's special doggie ice cream. It's the best treat around.) The biggest difference has been to give her the long stroke kind of petting~like mom did instead of scratching behind the ears~like a canine sibling did to get play started. That has settled her more than anything.