|My kitchen supervisors|
If Doppler’s day today had a theme, it would be self control. It started first thing at breakfast. Doppler has to sit, un-cued, and wait for me to put his food dish down and tell him “okay.” Only then can he eat. As usual, I had to pick his food dish up several times when he dove for it before the “okay.” But when he did finally hold his sit and I told him “okay,” he stayed put and just looked at me as if to say, “You’re just kidding, right? Nope, I’m not falling for it.” I had to say “okay” several times and point to his food dish before he decided it was okay to eat.
At work, per usual, he alternated between sleeping in the crate and hanging out under my desk. However, today he started putting himself under my desk. I think he’s starting to realize that’s where he’s supposed to be. Now, if only he would stop chewing on my desk chair… (The bacon-flavored bone has been a huge help in deterring his chewing on inappropriate things.)
|Hanging out under my desk|
And then, a few hours ago, came his biggest test of self control. We joined the big dogs for their puppy class outing to Giant. So many distractions for the little puppy! We spent about 10 minutes right inside the door, just taking it all in. Doppler got lots of clicks and treats for looking at me. At first, loose leash walking was nonexistent. When SSD dogs walk on leash, they’re supposed to stay right next to their handlers, with the leash in a loose J shape. Doppler was pulling all over the place. He was like “Ooo, another dog! Ooo, person! Oooo, smudge on the floor! This place is so awesome!” Finally, after lots of stops and starts, I got him to a quiet aisle to really get him focused. Pretty soon, he was walking on a loose leash like a champ. Sure, I was clicking and treating every three steps, but still, it was great.
I love taking Doppler in public. We’ve only gone one other place, a different Giant, but both times, he was surrounded by smiles. How can you not smile when you see a little wrinkly-faced puppy trotting along on his chubby little legs? Even the people who had that stressed out, long-day-at-work, don’t-wanna-be-grocery-shopping look cracked a smile when they saw him.
We spent an hour walking around Giant, practicing loose leash walking, greetings, and a few sits on a verbal cue. He was very interested in the other, older dogs who were there, but whenever we had to pass one, I made sure to click before he started to pull and then held the treat in his mouth as we walked past the other dog. That way, he didn’t pull and kept his focus.
Of course, since I was so focused on training Doppler, I didn’t even think to take any photos while we were there. I will do my best to get better at that.
All in all, I call today a successful day of self control.
Last night, we had our first puppy class with his siblings and two other puppies who recently joined SSD from Pacific Assistance Dogs Society. These classes, known as early socialization classes (ESC), are where the little puppies learn many of the basic cues, like sit, down, stay, come, and my personal favorite of the early cues: go to bed. Doppler will be in ESC until May, and then he’ll join the regular puppy classes with the rest of SSD’s dogs in training.
At this first puppy class, we worked on attention and started capturing the “sit” behavior. I have to admit, I had already put “sit” on a verbal cue, so Doppler was a champ at that one. Shaping, on the other hand, turned out to be his Achilles heel, at least for right now. Shaping is a training method where you break a behavior down into tiny steps. The dog must master each step before you move on to the next one (increasing your criteria for a click). For this first shaping exercise, we had to get the dogs to touch their nose to an orange cone.
Okay, sure, we can handle that. I started by clicking and treating Doppler for just looking at the cone. Once he had that down, I clicked and treated him for walking toward it. Okay, great, he walked right over to it. Click, treat. Next thing I know, Doppler is trying to bite and play with the cone. He was absolutely convinced that the cone was a toy. Clearly, we were going to have to work on shaping a lot, because he certainly wasn’t getting it with the orange cone.
So, today at work, I snagged an old coffee mug and put it on the ground upside down. I figured with the extra weight, the mug wouldn’t move if he bumped it and maybe he wouldn’t think it was a toy.
It worked! Doppler was much calmer this time (probably because there were no other dogs around and it was a familiar place). I clicked and treated him for looking at the mug, then for taking one step toward it, then for several steps, and finally for touching his nose to it. Every time I clicked, he looked right at me. I treated him away from the mug so he would have to move back toward it each time. We did this shaping exercise twice while we were at work, and both times he was successful. I think I’ll bring the mug with me to ESC and use it instead of the orange cone. Set Doppler up for success with something familiar.
I’m all about setting him up for success. He’s happier, I’m happier, everyone’s happier.
|"Another photo? Can't you see I'm busy?"|