Thursday, August 12, 2010

Coco and me after training class~new impulse control technique

Here is a video clip of Coco and me as we came out of class. I am pretty tired but you will get the idea. We were working on impulse control. We were in a class with several young dogs that were relatively new to the service dog training program. And they were barking like mad. It couldn't have been better. Coco remains calm when walking and around other dogs but when they start to bark, or they bark at her, she gets distracted and tugs. So we had lots of opportunities to work on this challenge.

By the end of class we were meeting mid-arena with the same dogs that had been barking earlier. She sat, stayed focused and gave me a fantastic smile and then the other handler and I shook hands and we walked on. It was great. For us, maybe because of my wrist weakness, using treat training exclusively wasn't working. I'm confident this leash technique will help break Coco of tugging before it becomes a bad habit. And the best part is it uses her strength to teach her to pay attention to where I'm going.

Another important thing was that she saw my back. It's an alpha thing a trainer told me. When she came back into heel then I was to praise her like crazy and put her at a sit and praise her some more before walking on. I got in the habit of saying, "There you are!" And then praising her like crazy.

With good advice from our trainer and two other trainer friends, we have developed a technique that will work. It will take me a little time to get the coordination down but it was great seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Basically, it is giving her a cue, a sound or a command before I do the turn away move. Then I encourage her to come with me and keep her focus. So she has the chance to decide to keep her focus and change directions with me. Even though I had given her a heel this was not going to make it clear enough to her that when there is a dog barking, or even a dog around, she needs to keep her focus on me. This is pretty important because she helps me in parking lots so I don't walk out in front of a car.

For what Coco does for me she will have to be completely non-reactive to dogs. She has her dogfriends and that is good. But when she is working neither one of us should be doing anything but paying attention to where we are going. One of the trainers also told me to make sure I give a command once and then reinforce it.

We do great when we are in the public domain and when we are walking in parks. Coco listens beautifully. In fact, I barely need to use words she is so focused on what we are doing. But the sound of barking is very distracting, really for both of us. We had a great time learning today and I thought I'd share it with you.

No comments:

Post a Comment