Thursday, May 13, 2010

Practice Makes Perfect

Nubble is hard at work practicing his skills. Donna and Lindsey have started to focus on targeting with him. They put a piece of duct tape on the end of a stick, and Nubble is supposed to touch or target it with his nose. Well, Nubble gets very excited, so for a while he just wanted to maul the duct tape. Since he targets to Donna's hand very well, she started putting her hand behind the duct tape. What a difference! Nubble seemed to realize that targeting the duct tape was just like targeting a hand. He also does well when Donna puts the duct tape against the wall or couch.

Targeting is an important skill for the dogs to learn. We use targeting when we teach the dogs to do things like push buttons. For example, when we train the dogs to push the button to open an accessible door, we will put a piece of duct tape on the button.

Nubble is also making progress with go on through. Although he doesn't wait at doorways inside the house if the door is already open, he will wait patiently for the cue if Donna or Lindsey open a door. To help him be successful with go on through when they're going outside, Donna removed the cat food from the front porch. That will reduce the distractions for Nubble.

Managing the dog's environment is an important part of training. Distractions in the environment make it much more difficult for a dog to give behaviors successfully, and when the dog isn't successful, both the dog's and the handler's frustration level can increase. If there's something in the environment that is very distracting to a dog, it's perfectly okay to remove it. Here, Donna removed the cat food from the front porch, making it much easier for Nubble to focus and do the behavior correctly.

Stairs are still a challenge for Nubble, although there are some days when he does fairly well on them. Donna recently found a nice flight of stairs outdoors, and Nubble did well. By the end of the session, he wasn't bolting up or down them. He still doesn't want anything to do with Donna's basement steps. He won't even bolt up and down them. To try to make it easier for him, Donna and Lindsey tried putting treats on each step, but Nubble wouldn't do more than move his feet off the top step. It's definitely a challenge for him.

In our last post about Nubble, we mentioned that he now has a comfort trainer. Donna and Lindsey have progressed from simply clicking and treating him for just looking at it to actually having him wear it. They put it on him when he eats, to help him associate good things with the comfort trainer. He does well with it on while he's eating, but once he finishes, he paws at it. Right now, Donna is waiting until he stops pawing at it before she takes it off.

Nubble has started giving some behaviors automatically. When he and Donna go to the bank, he automatically goes under the desk while she fills out her deposit slip.

He's also getting much better with crowds and noises. When Donna and Lindsey go places with him, it takes him a few minutes to settle, but once he does, he's able to get down to work.

He does have his funny moments. Donna and Lindsey took him to a different pet food store this week. There were stairs leading down to the entrance, and he did pretty well with them. Inside the store was a life-size stuffed dog, and Nubble was convinced that it was a friend to play with. He kept barking and trying to get it to play with him, and he couldn't figure out why it wasn't responding. There was a real dog behind the counter who wanted to play, but Nubble wanted nothing to do with him. He just wanted that stuffed dog to play with him!

1 comment:

  1. Lol I would have loved to see him and that stuffed dog! So cute!