Train My… Self

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December 2, 2012 by Julia West

We’ve all been there – whether you are working on potty training or obedience exercises – you put your dog in a different situation and think they are going to transfer the skill because it isn’t that different or they seemed to get the idea the first time/hour/day.  And then your dog screws up and the only one to blame is you.  

We recently moved into our new house and Delta seemed to adjust very easily – we hung jingle bells off the front door, we took her out after meals and crating, and the first day or so was fine.  Then I found some pee in the far end of the kitchen.  Maybe a day or so passed and I found (smelled!) some poop in the same spot. Tonight, despite a little more effort on our part, she left us a foul little package yet again. I was floored until I realized (as usual) that it was really my mistake.

When we were staying with my parents, we had a small area fenced in for the dogs. We were letting them out to potty and play for 10, 15, 20 minutes at a time.  We watched her for the first trip of the morning, but we didn’t always watch the other trips because we gave her ample time. We used their time outside to get ready in the morning, finish dinner, etc. Now we don’t have a fenced in area (and probably won’t until spring) and we’re frequently in a rush to get things done when we take them out.  Dash has adjusted easily, which is what I expect given his age and experience.  Delta is only 8.5 months and has only experienced house training in one place, so I should have known that I needed to back down our requirements and reinforcing her bell use. 

I was reminded again to adjust my expectations when I set her up to back up in a “chute” between the couch and the wall.  She’s been backing on a hand signal for months and she’s done in indoors, outdoors, at home, at the pet store, and in class.  She’d had some trouble with “weaving” when she backed up any distance, so I wanted to tighten up her path. I didn’t think doing it in a different way indoors was going to throw her. 

Yet again, I was wrong. First attempt, she turned around and started walking forward. The second attempt she sat. So I had to back it up and present the food lure. She needed it right in front of her nose for the first rep, but the second rep she started to move before I got that close. She quickly progressed back to her previous level of performance, but she needed help adjusting to the new situation.

One thing I have been doing right lately… working on her Sit Pretty.  I had been struggling because the order described to me was to remove the food in hand, then work on duration and distance.  When I removed the food, she wouldn’t hold the position to add on either one, so I had to figure out how to make progress but have food present.  The method I figured out was to keep the food in my hand and progressively move it away after rewarding for the current distance. The duration is lengthened as well, but she’s getting multiple rewards per session so duration in between treats is pretty short.  Here is a quick video to show you how my little tripod is doing: 

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