Follow-up on our January training goals

How did we do on our training goals for January?

Kitchen pups

Oh, these little weirdos. They make our lives so crazy, and yet, what would we do without them?

January Goals for Pyrrha

Omg let me in
OMG MOM LET ME IN
  1. Curbing jealousy directed at Eden. I am very happy to report that this is going a lot better. Pyrrha seems a lot calmer about Eden’s presence and a lot more tolerant of her adolescent antics.
  2. Crate-exiting calmness. This is also going better, although she seems to have good days and bad days with this. The turning point has been that I’m finally figuring out what helps her here. She gets amped up when I let them out of the crates, and she then redirects that energy onto Eden. Our helpful practice now has been to let Pyrrha out of her crate, and I spend some time stroking her and speaking to her until she calms down, and then Eden can come out. This has been working so far, and it’s something we practice daily.
  3. Avoiding leash reactivity on our walks. Lately, I’ve been walking them by myself, so I just avoid areas that I know tend to be populated with dogs. If Guion is with us, however, we practice our strategy of letting the confident baby (Edie) go first and Pyrrha follows behind, with me doing our classical conditioning protocol for when she perceives dogs. I think we’ll always be doing this with Pyrrha, to some degree, and it can feel disheartening, because the progress is SO incremental, but I’m glad that we at least have a plan in place now for her leash reactivity.
  4. Classical conditioning protocol for seeing small children. We’ve been practicing this on walks and particularly at the mini-park/playground that’s near our house. On pleasant days, there is usually an assortment of kids at the park, so I keep Pyr at a fair distance away and treat her for every time she is looking at or perceiving a child, especially small children. She doesn’t seem to notice/be bothered by kids older than the age of 7 or 8, so we’re focusing the most on the smallest ones.

And now for the crazy baby:

January Goals for Eden

Gourd girl
Gourd girl.
  1. Sitting to greet people. This is sort of going well… she at least seems to know now what we want her to do: sit on the ground and wait for pets. But she just has so much love in her heart that it is difficult to contain! And we need to be more consistent. The hard part is when we have visitors (which we normally do). We need to have a strategy in place for telling guests what to do — before they walk in the door! — if Eden tries to jump on them.
  2. Crate-exiting calmness. Super! She is now showing a lot of self-control in this area, because we’ve been clicking and treating for calmness (sitting quietly until the crate door opens). This is also helping Pyrrha’s crate-exiting craziness (above).
  3. Not feeling the need to bark to announce herself in the backyard. I can’t say that her feeling this need has decreased, but our new strategy is kind of working: If I call her to come while she’s barking, and she comes, she gets treats. This plan has greatly improved her recall, which is a side bonus, but it hasn’t decreased her need to bark. I have a feeling this need may always be here, but we can keep working on the recall.
  4. “Leave it.” Totally forgot this was one of our training goals. Whoops. Yeah, need to work on this one.
  5. “Come!” She’s getting this down in a yard-to-house recall, but we need to generalize this to the home and to other areas.
  6. Not counter-surfing. I also have no idea what to do here. How do you get your dogs to stop counter-surfing? (Pyrrha has never tried this, not even once, so we’re kind of at a loss.) Yelling “off” isn’t really helpful.

Coming soon: Goals for February!

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!

Pup links!

The much-maligned Wallis Simpson, aka Duchess of Windsor, with a cairn terrier. Source: bettyswallow.blogspot.com

A lot of interesting and thought-provoking dog-related links around the Web this week…

Pet-Friendly Apartments Are Lucrative. Are you hearing this, landlords of my town?? Listen closely! (The Bark blog)

“Dog People” Are from Pluto and “Cat People” Are from Jupiter? The summary of a very interesting study on the personalities of professed “dog people” and “cat people.” I was surprised at how many more people are self-professed “dog people” than “cat people.” What do you think? Does the study’s results accurately reflect your side? (Dog Spies)

Investigating Canine Research: Are Our Dogs Spying on Us? A fascinating study from Alexandra Horowitz‘s Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College. The study looks at the ways in which are dogs are watching us–reading our facial cues and listening to the tones of our voices–to get what they want. (Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab)

I Am a Clicker Convert. In a simple video, Kristine and Shiva demonstrate why a clicker really works. (Rescued Insanity)

Conflict Regarding Greeting People. I wonder about this, too. Is it better to let a dog get overexcited when meeting people in public? Or should we avoid those meetings altogether? (A Frame of Mind)

Exercises to Keep Dogs Off of Counters and Tables. I’ve always imagined that this would be a rather difficult behavior to fix. Here are some practical and helpful tips on how to address “counter surfing.” (A Frame of Mind)

Preventing Aggression Over Food. Karen London provides a fresh and helpful perspective on how to avoid food aggression. (The Bark blog)

A Canine Stress Dictionary. A list of common signs and symptoms that may indicate that your dog is totally stressed out. (Whole Dog Journal)

Fruits & Veggies, Oh My! A List of Dog-Friendly Foods. A helpful list of the healthy foods that are safe for dogs to eat. A carrot does sound like a great alternative to a fatty, calorie-packed treat. (The Hydrant)

They’re Leaving Home… I don’t think I’ll ever get over the feeling that Aussie puppies are the most adorable creatures on the planet. Deep down, my heart will always belong to this breed. (Inkwell Aussie News)

Yet More Quteness. A precious litter of GSD puppies at a nearby Virginia kennel. So hard to have self-control… (Blackthorn Working GSDs)

New Hounds in Town. A photo essay on the arrival of 10 recently retired greyhounds getting prepped for adoption. (ShutterHounds)

On the Street: Mulberry St., New York. Every outfit looks better with a dog! (The Sartorialist)

There’s A Dog In the House. Add this to my coffee-table-book wish list! (Dog Milk)

Summer Reading: Top Ten Favorite Dog Books. Some of my favorite dog books are on this list, too! A fun and easy guide to great books about dogs. (City Dog/Country Dog)

Up and Over. So funny. Such gleeful effort! Such hilariously tragic results. (Animals Being Di*ks)