Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Trying Again After a Major Fail

I gave Rocket a day off yesterday save for a walk. Our walk was a little discouraging, as she barked at a neighbor who was a considerable distance away. No walk, however, is just a walk. I was armed and ready with treats and the second he came into our view, I was working with her.

I have been watching Leslie McDevitt's video "Pattern Games: Clicking for Confidence and Connection" and have learned a bunch of new patterns we can use - a couple of which are already working well for us! I highly recommend this video.

Today we went to the dog supply shop I mentioned in a post (the day when everything went terrible). I know, I sound foolish - why am I taking her back there when I just said I wouldn't? Well, we took a different attitude toward it.

We did not go in, did not even get near the door. We just hung out around the place, walked around the shopping mall, and stayed at a very far distance. This was actually the right amount of stimulation for her. We only saw a few dogs and they were all very far away, and we worked on reacting to people and sounds. The place had the right amount of business that we had things to do, but never got overwhelmed. We did pattern games, worked on exercises, played lots of Look at That!, and clicked for looking at me instead of distractions. It went pretty well, she had amazing focus and seemed to really enjoy some of it.

1. Offered lots of great behaviors, started making a lot of choices about looking at me in the face of distractions.

2. Offered great obedience, was able to work even with people walking by for the most part.

3. Barking did not seem like "normal crazy reactive dog" barking...but I put this in negatives too because I dont want it happening!

4. Beautiful focus and heeling

5. Loose leash walking was really phenomenal today.

6. I worked on catching her even earlier with stares and other would-be-reactivity behavior. I started to realize this while watching McDevitt's video.

1. It continues to shock me just how hypervigilant she is. I'm paying more and more attention to how she is in and out of the house, and its really a concern. I am starting to get a deeper and better understanding of where she is really at, and it can be very sad for me to see her like this.

2. People reactivity. Some people she was fine with, others she would bark. She only barked a few times, and it was not a reactive mess like in the past, but nonetheless, I want to prevent this as much as possible.

3. More on the barking: she is doing this "BARK then turn and look at me all at the same time" thing which makes clicking a little bit of a challenge! I dont want to click for barks, I do want to click for turning to look at me! Its hard when the neck turns and the bark comes out at the same time!

4. A growl. Rocket growled at a woman that passed by. It was quick and as she was walking toward me as a part of her "look away from the distraction and look at mom to get a treat" (basically same timing as with the barking - growl happened simultaneously with the head turn). I did not correct her and I didn't click her. I immediately increased distance (I already was doing this at the moment of the growl anyway) and got her focused and then began clicking for those exercises. Again, this wasn't really high reactivity/over threshold moment. She was in a heightened state, but not over...but she still growled. After the incident she seemed a little more tense, but focused just fine. This really bothers me.

For the Look at That! Game and other great stuff:
McDevitt, L. (2007). Control unleashed: Creating a focused and confident dog. (1st ed.). South Hadley: Clean Run. Retrieved from

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