Training, week of August 6

Silas is in his second round of obedience class, about halfway through.

No, not the second level of obedience class. The second try at level one. He was only six months old the first time we tried, so I have to cut him some slack. This time is going much better. I’m not entirely sure why. Or, rather, I’m not sure what the primary cause is. He’s older, the class is smaller, and his training facility wised up to the use of some visual barriers within the classroom. I like to think Silas has become wise in the intervening six months and would have improved anyway, but I suspect the structural changes are the most important.

I’m putting all this down here because Silas knows the material for Obedience I backwards and forwards. (In what will likely become a refrain for this blog: while he is at home, and while everything is going his way.) That really takes the urgency away from the homework. We put him back in class to get him some experience working in “hard” environments, because there is a serious chasm between his home behavior and his public behavior. Plus, he’s getting very, very timid with strangers, so it was high time to get him some structured exposure.

Our homework this week is to work on name recognition, eye contact, sit and down with some duration and distractions, not jumping up on people, leave it, and wait.

The particular challenges from that list are “wait” and not jumping up. Silas is too scared to practice wait in class. I blocked him from going out the door once or twice, and then he was running the other way for all he was worth. At home we have 1) the back door, where we already have a frustrating time getting him to decide if he wants to go out or not and 2) the front door, which is really overwhelming for him. I think we’ll try the back door. He doesn’t have a tendency to rush out of it, and maybe a “routine” will get him to stop standing halfway out, letting bugs in. Jumping up on people is probably something I’ll save for class–his reactions to strangers have been a little fraught lately. I’d rather him not learn the skill than to get more practice barking at people.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

IMG_0535
See, I can sit!

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6 thoughts on “Training, week of August 6

  1. I’ve been working Delilah hard on the look command, which to me is very rewarding. She is not typically a dog that ‘looks’ to me, but I constantly catch her doing it now. 🙂

    Are you using treats? I am using lots of yummy treats, their favorite thus far is liverwurst. It is fairly inexpensive, can be cut up small and is high value.

    I don’t want to label her as ‘dog aggressive’ because she isn’t always. Just some dogs rub her wrong. I need to really watch for this and pay attention to her body language, when I see her tense up, I say, “LOOK” and it diffuses the situation.

    I’m sure you will get there with him, it sometimes just takes finding the right method. Hang in.

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  2. Thanks! Silas is not very food motivated (the anti-Delilah?) and he has a lot of allergies, so we’re having to work around that. He has historically started to refuse treats the second he’s under any kind of stress–whether that’s the “good” stress of being in the park or the “bad” stress of being afraid. I need to try him again. He’s grown a lot since I quit bothering to take treats places.

    The words I try to avoid with Silas are “fear aggressive,” but that’s definitely the way he’s headed. We hadn’t been taking him out as much the last two months or so, because it’s oppressively hot here, and I have been really unpleasantly surprised by how much more fearful he’s gotten. I just hope we caught it in time to nip it in the bud.

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  3. Silas is such a cutie, I can’t look at that photo without smiling. What a happy face he has!

    Classes are tough. During our first level of obedience I considered it a success if my dog didn’t try to eat anyone. We’re still working on not jumping up but since her former behaviour involved lunging and barking like a wackadoo, jumping doesn’t seem nearly so bad in comparison. I have a feeling Shiva will always be “imperfect”, and I guess that’s okay.

    I hope you continue to see success with him. It doesn’t matter why he’s improved – it’s all about celebrating every positive moment, no matter how small.

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  4. Hey, you already did give Silas an online home! Great!

    One of the reason classes are so great is because they give you a chance to practice with lots of distractions. I remember my last dog, Shadow, so interested in smelling things she couldn’t hear us at all. The training class was a good help at building up her attention in a distracting environment.

    BTW, Silas is a real cutie.

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    1. Thanks!

      I’m definitely planning to keep him in class as long as possible. He’s such a weird little dude that he won’t train outside, and in the house he has laser focus. The classroom, this time around at least, is a good medium. Obviously distracting, but not impossibly so.

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