Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Fresh Perspective: The End

Not really the end; more like a new beginning!
Lucy and I had our second (and final, unless I want to pony up more bucks for additional one on one training) with Samantha and her two dogs this morning. BTW, it was VERY chilly outside; Mr. B reported it was only 19 when he drove to work! BRRR!
Anyway, to sum up today (and this particular series):
1. First and foremost, Lucy IS a good dog. Every training person we've ever met has said so and Samantha was no exception. She told me Lucy has a good temperament, is motivated to learn (especially if there is food involved) and that she and I obviously have a sound connection. Even the things that Lucy has done that Mr. B and I consider to be bad are not, really, all that terrible; especially given her background (roaming free).
2. Last week, Samantha had suggested that we allow Lucy a bit more head (lead) on our walks; in other words, don't require her to constantly heel. I tried this. Once. I just couldn't do it! Mr. B couldn't, either. It just did not feel right to allow her to get way out in front of us (which she'd do if given the chance; especially if we also trying to work with her on learning self-control and discipline). I did go out and purchase a "Gentle Leader" nose collar (something Samantha suggested as an alternative to the pinch collar). It is exactly what is sounds like; you place it over the dog's nose (and also neck) and attach the ring near the nose to the leash. Similar to steering a horse, a gentle correction on the leash pulls the dog's nose in the direction you want them to go (or, in Lucy's case, back by my side). I've been working with her and this new collar and so far, so good. However, it's apparent that Lucy need a lot more loose leash walking training!
3. Which brings me to the possibility of another class (with other dogs). Lucy basically did not pay Samantha's dogs much attention (if any) today. My guess is this is because she had a very positive experience with both of them last week; no issues. This is very similar to how she is with Mom and Dad B's dog Fritz and my mom and dad's dog Brook (and, also, brother Jon and SIL Shannon's dog Raven); which is to say, they ignore one another for the most part. Samantha felt Lucy would do just fine in a class environment, especially if I always kept myself between her and another dog. The dogs are busy working, not socializing, anyway. But, there are always treats in a dog class, which brought to mind Lucy's food aggression. Samantha sat down on the floor with Lucy on one side of her and her older dog and on the other and alternatively feed one, then the other, out of her treat bag. Absolutely no problems!
4. Guess who needs training now? ME! Meaning, Samantha said I had to show Lucy I owned the treats. This was by far the longest exercise of the morning as Lucy was extremely hungry and really interested in the treats. Samantha put several in her hand and Lucy immediately tried to get at them by licking and nudging her hand. Samantha would not give her a treat until Lucy backed away and looked at her, then, she'd give her a treat from her OTHER hand. She did eventually get it, but, she licked Samantha's hand for over four minutes the first time. After she figured this out, Samantha put a few treats in the palm of her hand and put her hand near Lucy. Of course, Lucy tried to gobble them; Samantha put her other hand over that palm, effectively blocking Lucy from getting the treats without pulling the treat hand away. The idea here was to wait for Lucy to not lunge for the treats. As with the other exercise, she figured this out (and faster). Next was my turn and I'm pleased to say Lucy sat patiently waiting for me to feed her a treat!
5. As for the jumping up on people (when excited), we're going to ignore that behavior. I don't mean let her do it, I mean, keep her on her leash when she is first greeting people. Stand on the leash to keep he from jumping up; ignore her when she tries (any attention, even negative, is attention and possible reinforcement of bad behavior). If guests are willing, we'll play "Red Light, Green Light". As they approach Lucy, they will talk to her like they normally would. The moment she tries to jump, it's RED LIGHT and they will walk away. The idea here being she'll learn the sooner she calms down, the sooner she'll get attention (and probably a treat if it's Grammy!)
6. Samantha told me she thought Lucy would be a perfect candidate for Canine Good Citizen (what, MY dog?) Yes! We'll just have to work on these few things. She feels Lucy is itching for a job to do; maybe visiting sick children in the hospital or the elderly in a nursing home. Not yet, though! She has to work on that jumping behavior! She also needs to learn how to retrieve (if we ever want her to go into canine agility). Samantha gave me a few pointers on how to teach her to do that as well.
Although I learned a few more things today (stop repeating myself to her was one thing; tell her once and wait patiently for her to do it and don't tell her to be nice when she takes a treat, just don't let her have it if she's not); the bottom line is this. Lucy was a fine dog before with a few rough spots. With continued training (for both of us), she can be even better and add more tools to her tool kit (me, too). Hey, just like all of us, right? When we just sit there doing nothing but the same old thing, life can become dissatisfying and we may find ourselves getting into trouble.
The best news of all for me, though, really was hearing my dog praised as a good, friendly, loving, affectionate dog. Samantha said, "You got lucky with that one".
Yes, indeed.
Mrs. B

1 comment:

Margot said...

Fascinating, Mrs. B! She is a lovely dog & I would love to play red light/green light with her.