,June 2, 2018
Since he arrived on May 31, Loki has been saturated with new experiences, all crammed into a regulated schedule.
First thing in the morning, he goes out for about an hour, to play with the other dogs, run around and relieve himself, and generally get his ya-yas out.
After that, he comes in for a training session. (The training, for now, always involves the clicker and food rewards. The food is a mix of his regular kibble, pieces of soft salmon-flavored dog treats, crunchy kitty treats, cheerios (the plain oat kind, not the sugary type), bits of cheese, and frozen peas.) Once his training session is over, he goes into the crate with his frozen Kong, to rest and chew and think things over.
Learn to walk on loose leash without pulling.
Stop jumping up.
Come when called.
Stop chewing/destroying household items.
Stop chasing cats.
On Saturday morning, he was introduced to a hula hoop that my cats and dogs jump through. He was afraid of the hoop at first. It is blingy, and rattles when you bump it. I began by clicking him for just approaching the hoop while I held it upright, braced on the floor. Finally, I was able to lure his head through it. It took about twelve repetitions of clicking him for just standing with his head through, before he finally took the brave step to put one foot forward.
Every time his foot touched it, the hoop would go “SHUSHHHH” and it scared him. But the sound of the click was an audible reassurance to help him overcome this.
For now, my dogs stay out of the picture while training, since Loki has enough to think about. But the cats, seeing the hoop out, began circling around hoping for some of the action. So I obliged them. They both hopped through, earning kitty treats. With his session thus interrupted, Loki had to watch the cats perform and eat treats tossed on the floor. He is smart enough to know that the clicks and treats were for them, and he didn’t try to interfere.
There is a strict rule with clicker training to never interrupt a session, to stick with one criteria at a time, and I think that this is a very good guideline. However, a dog is a lot more discriminatory than many folks might believe. Other pets can be very useful in teaching behaviors. For one thing, this act of interrupting the session is teaching him patience. He had enough interest in the food to watch intently. Also, since one of his problem behaviors has been playful aggression toward cats, this type of exposure causes a shift in his reactiveness to them.
When it was again Loki’s turn to go through the hoop, he stepped through without hesitation and earned his reward.
By the time the session was over, he was hopping through it.
Early coordination – preliminary agility
Beginning target training
Overcoming fear of objects
Overcoming fear of sound
Overcoming inappropriate predatory behavior
Expanding the learning curve.
With every new little trick, Loki becomes a smarter, more attentive dog. His synapses are firing as he “learns to learn.” Each lesson is a process in building a relationship. Humans are cool. Humans make great partners. There is a lot more to this!
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