'Not only is punishment risky, but it also fails to teach the dog an acceptable alternate behaviour. The dog does not learn what to do the next time he is in the same situation. He only learns to fear the situation.' Emma Parsons, Click to Calm p73

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Collar Fear and Work Drive.

Ever since Lola's fur was starting to look (and feel) weird from constantly wearing her collar, and since she was accepting enough of it to only be scratching at it once or twice a day, she and Jess have been back to wearing no collars. And now, in the last two or so days, L has decided that the collar going over her head is the most awful thing ever. She'll sit and wait as instructed, even though she's quivering to go and leap at Jessie's face, but as soon as the collar comes within a couple of inches of her head she's wiggling away from it, shying back or jolting like she's been electrocuted.

I have no idea what's brought this on. I've never dragged her by her collar, or grabbed it more than necessary (to get her to hold still occasionally, but always with treats galore). When I do manage to get her to stay still, her ears shoot back as soon as it clips together around her neck. I'm going to try and pair the clipping of the collar around her neck with huge blocks of cheese, but I have no idea how to get her to not shy away when the collar comes closer. Hmm.

I also need to work on a problem I've realised we have: how she doesn't want physical contact, thank you very much, when she's 'working.' Sure, she'll wrestle with and chase my hand for a reinforcer after a particularly good repetition of something, but she'll duck away from a pat, and she most certainly does not want her lip moved so I can see her teeth. Even more than the collar problem, I have no idea how to increase the value of physical contact when she's working without removing her super-focused work drive. But without it I'm not going to be able to display my ability to 'groom' and handle her in the puppy class test in a few weeks. I'm at a bit of a loss on that.

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