Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Pip Progress: Graduation and Distraction Training

Pip has graduated from her Basic Obedience class with flying colors. She started as the creepy kid yelling in the corner and just a whirlwind of mayhem and stress and fear to the best little doggy I could ever hope for! She still needs help with her fear of people, but lately it has been easily manageable as she doesn't really have the intense freak-outs that she used to have. At the end of the class, she held a stay in a crowded room with a happy expression. "I got this," she seemed to be saying with confidence. I just have to keep working with her.

Now that she's less fearful all around, I have been able to really amp up the difficulty of her distraction training and have taken it outside. She does great near our apartment and in grassy fields, but still falls apart in pet stores and other enclosed, indoor spaces with tons of people.

Look at this video, I can't believe how far she's come. She's my lovely girl. You can see directly how difficult games indoors and asking her to choose me over the reward over and over again helps her to be able to process the distractions outside and tune them out. To me, she looks like a typical, young dog in this video. Before, she wasn't able to do this. But she's been improving steadily day by day.

Most of my training had been on what I consider important foundation skills as well as teaching her how to be less afraid of the world. Now, I'm finally able to work on fun tricks. She learned "tall" (standing up on her hind legs) and "wave" (lifting her left paw in the air) rather quickly.

Here I'm attaching a verbal cue to her wave behavior. I've also been teaching her backwards circles around me. She's actually getting it really fast and I didn't need the wall since she backs up directly straight from my hand, so I just sort of chase her around me with my "back up" hand signal. Once she has muscle memory and fluency with this exercise, I will attach the word and then fade my hand. She's already starting to get the rhythm of the trick. I'll try to film the progress we're making on that trick.