Since the last post I’ve been using a multi-modal approach in training Murcie. At home, I’ve had to start implementing some guidelines for the household. One of our problems was that she didn’t have any boundaries. If she wanted something, I got it. If she wanted to sit on top of me, she sat on top of me. lol Here are some guidelines that I’ve tried to institute.
1. I control her resources, so the allocation of those resources must be earned by her. Meaning: I make her sit or stay or lay down before I give her anything, or let her outside.
2. If she starts “pitching a fit” in the form of whining, she gets ignored. No eye contact, no verbal discouragement. She gets ignored. Likewise though, if she’s doing something good like laying on her bed quietly or sitting, not being a spaz, I reward her with praise, love or treats.
3. No more super-long snuggling time. If she lays with me, I must prompt it and it is for no more than 15 minutes. If she wants to lay with me, I ignore her.
When we started, this wasn’t a big problem at all. I’ve found it more and more difficult with her sinus infection raging full force. Part of her treatment is nebulizing her with antibiotics. The only way that I can hope to get her to tolerate this is by making her lay down, calm beside me and trying to put the nozzle up to her face. It doesn’t work great but it’s something. Plus, since it is hard for her to breathe, she seems to be more insistent in wanting to sleep in the bed with us. Usually, I can make her get off the bed at night when she jumps up. Now, she either doesn’t get down or gets down and waits a second for us to fall back asleep. I don’t know if this is my own weakness weighing in and knowing she’s suffering, not trying as hard to make her get off. Or, she really is being more insistent. Either way, not getting her to sleep with us is a fail.
All of that being said. I think that her training while going on a walk is working very well. I’ve walked her twice by herself since the first time (I know twice isn’t anything special – but I’m proud of it lol). Walking her by herself is all the different. Plus, it has allowed me to taking Enzo running separately, which I know he loves. She is almost a completely different dog. The first time I walked her by herself, she was a little distracted, but we were able to reinforce the ‘Whoah,’ command. I was even able to get her to sit and watch (fairly calmly) while a guy ushered his old golden retriever into the house. We were across the street and normally the site of any dogs puts her on edge far after it is out of eyesight.
Yesterday, I took her for another solo walk and she had even done a step further from the ‘Woah’ command where she was looking at me, to turning and sitting in front of me. Part of this is the reinforcement she gets in the house where I have her sit in front of me when I give her a treat. She is used to this behavior and I’m all too willing to encourage it.
Okay, so while this isn’t exactly what she had been doing two seconds before this picture was taken, or even two seconds after…you get the idea. For some reason, any time I tried to take her picture, she would look away. This is the idea though. I stop, say ‘Woah,’ and she turns and sits, looking at me. Most of the time, if I’m honest, she’s looking at the treat bag that’s at my waist. I don’t know if it’s okay for me to be fine with this, but I am. What I want is her attention.
Right now, she’s far from perfect. She’s still getting distracted and toward the end she doesn’t want to acknowledge the command at all. I try to likewise reward her if she, while walking, looks at me completely unprompted. I want her checking back with me. I want her attention. Sadly, there were no passing dogs that I could practice on, though I’m still a little nervous doing this.
I’ve also come up with a plan for her craziness whenever I take her past a fence with a dog on the other side. After she learns ‘Whoah,’ I intend to teach her something that will initiate a quickened pace over a variable distance. Basically, I can use this whenever we encounter something that I just want her to ignore and walk past. Not sure how it’ll work, but I’ll keep the updates posted.