a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: October 2014

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Milestone! Chip Came!

SUMMARY: Chip makes the decision to stop in midcharge and come back.

Chip runs to go fence barking/fighting.

With my back as it has been--almost since Chip came home--for days or weeks on end I've not even felt the urge to do any kind of training or even playing with and rewarding existing training.

I worked occasionally on "Chip, Come!" just after he'd already made the decision to come to me, intending to gradually move that back to just about the time that he was making the decision, and then to before he'd made the decision.

Previous Owner had to walk him down and corner him at the dog park because he wouldn't come. I experienced that myself when we did a dog park to experiment. My motivation should be strong because I want to allow all the dogs off leash in appropriate places and be able to know that I can call them back. Annoying having to keep Chip on a leash or long lead all the time.  Yet, with pain and medications and all that, I wasn't taking dogs anywhere anyway, so motivation lower.

But, I've been thinking more about doing stuff. On Instructor Nancy's recent suggestion, I went just for "Chip". I liked the idea anyway, because he arrived here with a weak name response (e.g., might or might not look at me when I said his name, and with not much interest; if nothing else interesting was in process, a response was more likely). And I finally had the energy to just say Chip "a million times a day" and give him a treat every time.

I had already started that as soon as he came home, at agility trials on leash in particular or while out for walks on leash. His name response improved, but again, only at close range and not reliably and not very fast.

Is the neighboring Noise Dog there?

If ya can't see 'em, smell for 'em.

Anyway--started doing it much more often three or four weeks ago, out in the yard many times (although not every time). Just taking a bag of treats and randomly calling his name and giving one for coming.   His name response in times of no more than mild arousal had become instant--that head just whips around towards me.

Did I already talk about using the Premack Principle on his fence fighting with the Noise Dog next door?  I continued doing that as well, moving farther and farther away.  Again, I wasn't consistent about doing this regularly, but when I did more of it, he more often tended to do some barking and then immediately come back to see whether he'd get a treat.

Anyway, all of this combined to where, today, the Noise Dog hit the fence and made a ruckus, and Chip bolted straight in his direction.  When Chip was nearly there, I yelled "Chip!" from almost the other side of the yard (not near him) and he slammed to a halt, turned, and trotted back to me with no hesitation.  Huzzah! That's the first time that he's taken the initiative to come back in full flight! Yowza yowza! Every other time when I tested this, he might have slowed slightly and turned his ears back towards me, but then continued on his mission.

He got a ton of treats AND the frozen chicken foot for that!  (I knew that we were close, so I'd had it in my treat pouch the last couple of times along with the other treats.)

Everyone came away happy and quiet.

Well--quiet in part because he won't do the actual barking/fence fighting if I'm standing there trying to take a photo for evidence to be used against him. He's a suspicious kind of guy.

As I washed my hands afterwards, I thought--I have to keep up on this, repeating all the time for the rest of his life, which is what I needed to do with Tika. Because if I stopped practicing, a lot, frequently, her recall deteriorated and she'd no longer, for instance, call off of chasing a squirrel.  THAT might be one advantage to starting with a puppy: If their minds grasp the recall thing very early and before they get used to doing what they want to do, maybe it wouldn't require constant intense renewal.

Boost has a pretty reliable recall. Maybe because I taught her has a puppy. Maybe because she's a Border Collie.

Well, they can't all be Border Collies, and that's just as well. Chip is really really fast, and if I can harness that into agility, he could be a Contendah--if I can ever confidently run again.

I'm rambling again. Good night!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Introducing: The Finchester Yellow

SUMMARY: Finally figured out my favorite breed's name.

In order: Amber (in 1981), Remington (in 1994), and Chip (in 2014).

(See photos of their faces.)