Thursday, March 17, 2011

training: never miss a moment

Roxy's training walk yesterday was very productive... not only did we get to work on some stuff I had planned for, we had the opportunity to work on a few things I hadn't planned for.  Namely, the ice cream truck, screaming kids, and basketball-playing teens!

First, Roxy's leash-walking skills are definitely getting better. We've been walking on her martingale collar 90% of the time.  On walks when I don't have time to make sure I'm paying attention to her pulling, we walk on the Halti to prevent her from rehearsing the pulling behavior.  I initially gave her too much leeway on the regular collar, and let her walk wherever, as long as the leash was loose; but we were not having as much success as I wanted.  So I've been keeping her on a much shorter leash, next to me, and simply stopping with a no-reward mark of "oops" and going with our release word, "okay," when she comes back into a heel position.  We've been doing lots of work with rewarding her for her standing next to me, and she's getting better now to the point where if she forges ahead, and I stop and say "oops," she'll come back to my side and look up at me.

Second, we'd been struggling with cars, trucks, etc. on walks.  She watches them so intently, and attempted to lunge at them a few times, so I knew we needed to deal with that behavior.  We worked a lot on "leave it" and today we got to put it to the test with the ice cream truck, while the music/sound was going on.  I asked for, and got, a solid "leave it" -- not only did she look away from the truck, but she wowed me by looking away from the truck and making eye contact with me. Big win!

Third, we had several solid "leave it" trials with dogs barking from their houses, doors, windows, yards, etc.  Not a single reactive moment.  Of course she was on alert when she heard them bark, but she did great, just perking up to listen, and then kept walking!

Fourth, there were kids playing basketball and she walked (almost) perfectly by them on the leash.  We stopped a short distance before them (about 20 feet) and did some basic obedience and then we moved on.  She did great walking by them, although we need to work a little on walking loosely on the leash around people, because she gets excited and wants to check everyone out.

Lastly, a few houses from home, there was a family outside with 5 young kids (between 5 and 10 years old), 2 adults, and a walking toddler.  They were all on the front lawn, playing, randomly screaming, running about, and just plain being kids. I definitely hadn't planned for it, but I couldn't miss out on this perfect opportunity to do some desensitization and counterconditioning, so we stayed across the street and I just kept popping treats in her mouth.  She got extra treats when the kids screamed, made random or unexpected noises, and when they moved (they were stopping and going a lot).  We stayed across the street until I was almost out of treats, and then we left.

We ended on a great note, she walked next to me for 3 houses straight without any reminders and sat perfectly at the front door waiting to come inside.


  1. I am proud of you and Roxy, both. Congrats on all of your success!

  2. We couldn't have done it without your help, Erica!!