Saturday, November 27, 2010

In the Blink of an Eye - Working on Calming the Pack

Back in October, I posted about my efforts to end the frenetic behavior that Dusty displays when my neighbors come home.  I still have never had a chance to joyously beat the fence, and amuse my neighbor--the one imitation I did of insanity at the bay window left its desired impression on the dogs.  (Probably left an undesirable impression on the neighbors though ;-)  Dusty (and the other three) will still bark at the fence when my neighbors come home, but not as insanely, and the moment I open my window or the patio door, he and the others come away from the fence.

Tuesday night, I was able to run him on an AKC JWW course, and we had what was possibly the best run we've ever had.  (I'm sure it didn't hurt that David and Micky had already run him three times.)  However, despite the excellent run, Dusty still did some air-biting as we lined up at the start line.  He does this with me in many situations; he does not air-bite when David or Micky runs him.

About a week ago, I started working Karen Overall's relaxation protocol with Dusty and Belle.  A few days later, I decided to work with Libby and Max also.  I will be so over-joyed if eventually we can answer the front door without all bedlam breaking loose.  Dusty is going to repeat Day 6; Belle is on Day 7; Max has progressed to Day 3; and Libby will be repeating Day 2.

I also started reading Control Unleashed by Leslie McDevitt.  That got me trying to shape an eye blink.  All four dogs have been exposed to shaping behavior with a clicker, and until now the hardest thing that I have ever tried to shape was getting them to strutt.  In fact, we never truly perfected that one, but at least we got a start on it.  I think shaping the eye blink is even harder.  I was very surprised that Max, my Airedale, seemed to get the idea more quickly than the Aussies.  He did have an advantage though since I tell him to lie down every time he gets up, but he responded quite quickly to my "eyes wide open, followed by a blink" clue.  The Aussies, didn't seem to get that clue at all.

This morning, I decided to give everyone a chance to work on eye-blink shaping before breakfast.  I had everyone go into the sunroom and then brought them out one at a time.  Dusty was first and as he came through the door, he gave his customary air-bite and leap in the air.  My clicker was in my hand and spoke to me:  You can make him come through that doorway again (and again), and when he does it calmly, click and treat.  Oh, duh!  Of course.  Why did I never think of that before?  It took several times before Dusty did it correctly, but he did do it.  From now on, he will not be allowed to proceed through a doorway or gate or to his dish unless he does it calmly.

Wish me luck on my winter project of bringing calmness to the pack.

No comments:

Post a Comment