Friday, July 29, 2011

Quickly Solving Problems

It's always my goal to quickly address the most pressing issue that a dog owner has, even when in group classes.

Recently we had a less than year old lab mix in a basic class. The challenge was pulling.

Our plan:
Management:  Front clip harness so that the dog couldn't pull as hard. Stopping if the dog pulled to prevent reinforcement from the continued walk. Avoid walks if it was just a bad day, ONLY training walks allowed.  Exercise before walks.

Training: Backwards walking (handler backwards, dog in front, feed for dog being close. I have video clips of this for it's own well-deserved post), walking next to the owner with frequent reinforcement and then less frequent,  the rally call-front exercise (without the sit), leave it working up to using it on the real world, Squirrel game/ systematic distraction training, pace-change exercise (change pace, click for dog matching).   Pivot box.

If you mess up and the dog is pulling:  Plant your feet. Backwards walking. Treat magnet him away.

After 2 weeks of work the dog is great and now we have to come up with other things to work on in class!  Two weeks!   We stopped the reinforcement for pulling. We trained the dog how to walk. And if the dog did start pulling we knew what the best plan was for that point in time.

I wish everything went that fast. Some issues are more challenging. Some owners are less skilled.  Some dogs have had more practice at the undesired behaviors.  But a lot of it comes down to me really needing more efficient plans.    We keep getting better!

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