Training goals for January

Attentive ladies

Have you heard? January is Train Your Dog month! Of course, training should be happening all the time (and it is, even when we think we’re not training them to do something), but it’s nice to have time set aside to really focus on those specific training goals.

Accordingly, here’s what we’re working on in our household:

January Goals for Pyrrha

  1. Curbing jealousy directed at Eden. Pyrrha only exhibits this behavior when I’m present, but she can get sassy/cranky (growling, body blocks, scruff biting) with Eden from time to time. *I* seem to be the resource she’s guarding (it’s not exhibited over a toy or food; she never acts this way when Guion is around), and so I confess I’m not entirely sure how to work on this. Anyone ever dealt with jealousy when you’re the guarded resource? What helped the jealous dog?
  2. Crate-exiting calmness. She’s gotten better about this, but we can still work on her waiting patiently during crate exits. Related to her jealousy issue (above), she can also redirect her crate-exiting craziness on Eden (with growls and body blocks).
  3. Avoiding leash reactivity on our walks. Continuing all that we learned from our reactivity class, via classical conditioning. I think she’s making progress, however subtle it may be. We’re also hopeful that Eden’s bouncy, confident presence will be calming to Pyrrha.
  4. Classical conditioning protocol for seeing small children. Pyrrha is frightened of children (about toddler age up to pre-teens), and so our trainer has recommended working on the same classical conditioning protocol that we did with leash reactivity when we see kids. Baby steps right at first (working far away from kids, just when she only perceives them, and then gradually closing the gap)!

January Goals for Eden

  1. Sitting to greet people. We’ve been working on this already, and it’s adorable how hard she tries not to jump. Her whole little body is just quivering with excitement, and she can hardly contain herself when people enter the room. But she’s learning quickly what we want her to do. I think we need to start pairing some extra incentive with it (e.g., food), although the affection and attention when she does sit seems to be working well.
  2. Crate-exiting calmness. Already working on this, and she gets the jist of it, but we can make this behavior (sitting quietly until the door is open) more solid.
  3. Not feeling the need to bark to announce herself in the backyard. As I mentioned, she doesn’t seem to bark nearly as much (or at all) when Pyrrha is in the yard with her.
  4. “Leave it.” I introduced this to her a few days ago, but we need to take some time to repeat and practice it.
  5. “Come!” This little turd really does not want to come to you when you ask her. She doesn’t even respond to the inviting body language (bent down, clapping playfully, even a play bow). She’d rather do her own thing and explore. Again, need to start using higher-value incentives here!
  6. Not counter-surfing. Thankfully, she’s never actually grabbed anything off the kitchen counters (so she’s not getting rewarded), but she is desperate to see and smell what’s up there. Need to work on this in a more patient, concentrated way.

Eden will also be taking her first obedience class near the end of this month, and Guion and I are looking forward to it. She’s so bright and eager to please; I just don’t want us to screw her up!

Are you setting goals for your dog(s) for Train Your Dog month? Do share them! And of course, if you have ever trained some of the issues that we’re working on, feel free to share your advice!

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9 thoughts on “Training goals for January

  1. Was just thinking today about the goals I want to set for this year with Riley (my shep). We’ve built a good foundation, but need to practice our ability to do it when distracted (she’s SO easily distracted…) and make the commands really solid. We also still need to do quite a bit of work on our loose leash walking… and begin building it into a solid heel command. I think the key here will be returning to higher rates of reinforcement, and being really consistent about that to build drive for being in position.

    As for the recall… does your training center offer any type of focused recall class? Ours does and it was by far one of the most fun classes I’ve taken. So many games for training recalls!!

  2. I’ll be interested in hearing how you work with Pyrrah on her guarding you. I’m having the same issue with my Golden. She has dog aggression issues to begin with (which thankfully, after over 2 yrs, seems to be improving for the better) – and in a multi dog household it can be very difficult to deal with at times.
    I wish you luck!

  3. Jan 13th I have a PhD animal behaviorist coming to show me how to train/manage Luna out of her resource guarding me. Vanya Moreno PhD is positive reinforcement only. I’ll share her suggestions after our appointment. From Tucson AZ

  4. Nice to feel like there are others out there with similar training issues! Kingston has a tendency to resource guard me with strangers, so that is something we are working on regularly. Not the exact same issue as you, but I’d love to hear any tips or tricks you come up with! We start a basic obedience class with him next week, in hopes that just being around new people will allow him to relax and learn that he doesn’t need to ‘protect’ me. From a dog-dog perspective, Tonka can be ‘jealous’ when the other dogs have my attention, so I make sure to ignore him when he is acting that way, and give him special one-on-one time when he is not. I’d also be interested in hearing more about how you are training Eden to politely greet new people. Georgia is a jumper, no matter what we try! The hardest part, however, seems to be getting our human guests to listen when we ask them to ignore her until she sits! Hoping to hear more from you about these subjects 🙂

  5. This just came at the perfect time as I was just thinking that I wanted to do some more training with Tala in the new year partly because a friend just brought back some freeze dried livers from the states and Tala is mad for them (poor deprived expat dog has never tried them and we’d been relying on peanuts)! Because she is very well behaved around the house I have never taught her any tricks or more complex obedience things but now I think I might – she learned lie down from a distance in minutes with the livers! On another training note I was interested in a post a little while back where you mentioned Pyrrah acting in a bullying way with more submissive dogs. Tala does exactly that too – for example there is a an older (6 or 7) very submissive Cavalier King Charles who when she goes to his house or he comes to ours she watches him like a hawk with hackles up and tail raised as if waiting for him to do something to make her pounce (pick up a bone, go to a food/water bowl). She even blocked the stairs on purpose at his own house to prevent him coming up. I end up watching her like a hawk as I worry she’s going to go for him – really weird – do you have anymore information on that kind of behavior? It makes me worry as eventually I too would love to get another dog (ideally a Phu Quoc from Vietnam) but that behavior and general grumpiness and intolerance with puppies makes me wonder how Tala would be.

  6. As far as the jealousy issue goes, give Pyrrha attention first, and keep giving her a little attention, like one hand on her and turning to talk to her or make eye contact a little, when you’re giving attention to Eden. She’s the top dog, and she still needs to feel a little like she’s still the center of your universe. I’m not saying to totally give in to her or to ignore Eden, just help Pyrrha over the hurdle.

    Our training goals this month are introducing the clicker with Flattery and starting to get a positive association with it so we can start working on other things. Bunny is starting to learn “on it” because I want to build up to her being able to stand on the side of a hospital/nursing home bed and be able to be petted by some of our patients who can’t sit up to reach her. We won’t be at the bed level by the end of the month, but we want to have a good start on it.

  7. Our dogs are doing well with not resource guarding me. They are setting boundaries with the puppies and it’s been very peaceful.

    I’m very interested in your leash reactivity class. I’ve never heard of this and it would be wonderful knowing what is taught.

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