Friday, April 20, 2012

Training Tess 4-20-12 "Nail trimming"

This week's training video is up!

FYI - I've started to include my initials "mnf" at the end of all my videos so it should be easy to search youtube and find my videos.  

This week I videoed Tess's nail trim.

BTW - I have no idea what the audio sounds like in this video because I uploaded it and annotated it in class on mute!  Audio wasn't important for this session anyways. 

Tess really resents any kind of restraint or "man handling".  Unfortuantley she's also very reactive to having her nails trimmed.  I'm not sure what she doesn't like about it - probably the requirement that she has to be reasonably still and not bouncing around, and the fact she's being touched, and maybe she just has really sensitive nails?  Today is the first time I quicked her (pre-video - I clipped the video so just a portion of the nail trim is shown), there's no reason for there to be a negative/pain association with clipping.

I've been trimming her nails while she's on her back and it goes MUCH better.  She associates being on her back with all sorts of games we play.  I'm not asking her to roll on her back for the session - I'm placing her in position - because I don't want to associate the "on your back" command with nail sessions for now.

Another important note is that the point of the session is desensitization/counter conditioning (DS/CC) - NOT training.  Thus, I'm not rewarding her for a specific behavior during the session - I'm trying to change her emotional response to nail training from a negative thing, to a positive thing.  Ideally, I would be giving her treats when I was actually trimming the nail, but not having 3 arms (nor 2 heads incidentally) she's getting treated between trimming the nail.  Sometimes I ask my partner to help me and the timing is much better (he feeds as I trim). 

Between each foot she gets a play break to work off any stress that has accumulated and to let her know that this is a fun game!

On her back she's not really restrained.  I've placed her in position and she's holding it voluntary based on the support of my legs.  I'm teaching her to accept restraint, and to roll into position - but again, 2 things that I'm working on APART from nail trimming, since the act of nail trimming has such a negative connotation for her.

Based on my experience with Tess, I'm not sure that regularly handling puppy nails and feet, and doing nail trims young necessarily guarantees you a dog that doesn't resent nail trims as an adult.  I was very conscious of doing the "right" handling things with Tess as a puppy - nails, teeth, restraint - and I've come to the conclusion that the dog's cooperation with those activities is partly based on their personality.  My hope is through DS/CC and a positive approach, eventually Tess looks forward to the game of nail trimming!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

By George!

I think I've got it!

Here's the original reference:
Too dog tired to avoid danger: Self-control depletion in canines increases behavioral approach toward an aggressive threat
Holly C. Miller, C. Nathan DeWall, Kristina Pattison, Mikaƫl Molet and Thomas R. Zentall
Psychonomic Bulletin & Review
DOI: 10.3758/s13423-012-0231-0

Here's a perfectly good explanation for some of the "zoomie" issues I'm having with Tess.  She's an active, bold, independent puppy and I require a LOT of self control from her.  By balancing my need for her to practice self control, and making sure that when I'm asking a lot of control from her (such as during agility practice) I haven't "depleted" my available store. 

I notice that if she's been a down stay most of the day at my side, she practically explodes with energy and I'm setting her up for failure to ask for tasks that require a great deal of control.  I always reward  when she chooses to practice self control - but there's only so much that can be asked of 13 month old puppy who's still building that pool of self control. 

I think that for now I'll be very conscious of my goal for the session in regards to self control - Am I working on increasing her amount of self control?  Is it a play session to restore her brain after a long training session and thus I'll ask a minimum amount of self control?  Or is it a "working" session with equipment or other tasks that require her to draw upon that reservoir of self control?

Hope this made sense - I'm still noodling it through in my mind, but I'm on the verge of an "ah-ha" moment.  I think :)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Training Tess 4-14-12

This week's video is up!!!

The weather was beautiful so I decided to take it to the front yard.  The contact behavior I'm working on is a "developing" skill, and I need to work on it in different settings.  The front yard is distracting, and the grass adds a challenge - but I felt we were up to it.

We've been working VERY hard this week on attention in the face of distraction AND playing tug with me.  I've not wanted to put too many rules on toy play because rules can be de-motivating, but Tess started to have a lot of "I don't wanna so I don't hafta" moments with tug.  I decided that enforcing "criteria" was different.  My criteria is: she has to take the toy when I ask, she has to hold on to the toy and shift her weight to her hind end and stay engaged until I tell her to drop it.  When I say "drop", she has to drop it.

Susan Garrett mentioned in her newsletter last week that not enforcing a black and white criteria is confusing for the dog and leads to puppy zoomies, shut downs, and stress.  Tess was exhibiting all of these during toy play, so I concluded that the lack of an enforced black and white criteria was probably the issue.

It really sucked for 48 hours.  I would ask for her to play with me at random spots (in the parking lot, in the car, prior to going outside, in the hallway etc.) and kept at it until she did a tug that met criteria.  I worked HARD.  She was stressed.  My entire school probably thinks I'm mental because of my wild behavior throughout school grounds in an attempt to engage my dog.  But I worked through every single "I don't wanna I don't hafta" moment for 2 days and then it was like a light bulb went on in her head and she now plays my tug game any where, any time with me.  It was the perfect example of how not enforcing a black and white criteria can hurt your training,  and you aren't being "nice" to your dog by making excuses or letting them sometimes do something and sometimes not. 

After reviewing this video, I probably need to make my criteria for the board more black and white ALL the time.  In the beginning because it was a new location, very distracting etc etc I didn't - I was being "nice".  You can see how much more distracted she was in the beginning - not as motivated, self releasing, not releasing when asked, not as focused - as compared to the end when I actually expected her to comply with the "rules" of the game: one hind paw on the board until I say otherwise, you actually have to release when I tell you so etc.

Overall I'm really happy with this session. 

A couple of notes about the session:
-I'm still too distracted at the beginning by the camera and getting the angles right.  It's better than last week though!

-IYC is improving.  She didn't try for the bowl more than right at the beginning, and just once.

-Need to stop "cheerleading" so much!  Good girl good girl good girl.....

-Really liked that she was more engaged at the end of the session than the beginning.  Actually timing sessions makes a HUGE difference.