'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

Monday, 17 January 2011

Puppy Training: Grooming and LLW.

Finally, we got back to training class. All we missed last week was a recap of what we've done so far; so I hadn't missed anything. It was strange to see people after so long (especially Lennox and his handler; the poor bedlington has had a shave cut thanks to miscommunication with a local groomer, and he looked so weird).

This week, as Lola's now had plenty of time to get used to the strange sights, sounds and smells of puppy training, I took a proactive approach - and took half a sandwich bag full of treats (filled with a slice of tiny chunks of cheese, a sliced up meat stick, 6 shapes broken into crumbs, several barbeque bones smashed up to crumbs, and L's dinner; two handfuls of kibble) to continuously work L. She was so excited to get there--and especially when her bff Lennox arrived--that she was yapping and jumping and darting like crazy before the lesson even started. I moved her to the other side of the room, and worked on getting and keeping her focus with two dozen or so reps of sit, down, touch and with me as we walked around the room, rewarding her with both treats and situational reinforcers.

Throughout the entire class (well, for the 90% or so of the lesson--which ran on for 20 minutes longer than usual--that we actually had some treats), I asked L to continuously give reps of sit, down and touch. Nonstop reps, with the occasional jackpot for a super-speedy sit or down, and it kept her so much more focused. She was startled by Jean's Italian Spinone being present, for the first time in the course, but she managed to ignore it when it was about 3m away and concentrated on giving me sits and downs for treats; and this was even toward the end of the session.

In the lesson, we had to demonstrate our ability to groom our dogs (um... I can brush L with a treat as a distraction, but I can't lift her lips to see her teeth when she is too interested in getting at everything and anything), and then we moved on to showing off our loose-lead walking and doorwork. Lola's fabulous focus on me whilst walking was commented on--several times; and we were the only ones to be complimented as such!--but she went from intense focus on me (just like usual) to lunging to play with the other dogs (just like usual). I'm going to borrow some other people's dogs and do on-lead manners with L in the next couple of days; she will have to learn to wait until I say, 'say hello' to be allowed to greet the other dogs. Our doorwork was fine, nothing great; about on par with everyone else's (and we really haven't worked on it outside of the house, so I was amazed we did that well).

Twice during the session, Lola began fidgeting and whining. I took her outside immediately, and was rewarded with her toileting quite quickly. Success! A few weeks ago, she would have just sniffed, squatted and done her business in the training room; now she knew enough that she shouldn't go here, she should tell me and get me to take her outside. Fantastic.

Next lesson, we're carrying on with leadwork so, ideally, I need to have at least started L's on-lead doggy manners by then. We also apparently have four lessons left until the test; the likelihood of us passing is probably about 1.5% at a push.

However, I got some great news in that (despite what I was led to believe before) if we fail (and we probably will!) it will only cost us £20 to re-take the test at a later date. So that's good. I was worrying we were going to have to go through the entire course again. Now, we'll be able to work until L is ready, and then I'll be able to keep up our momentum and apply to take the next test possible.

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