Friday, November 9, 2007

Birthday Day (Nov. 7)

What to Do on a Busy Day

Birthday was too busy to sit and write - thanks, Dick! Also too busy for a regular training session, but we worked on some things he'll have to know for mom, like "touch." So far, I've taught him to touch with his nose, as this would be the preferred method of alerting my mom to sound. However, as he will be required to wake her from sleep, a nose nudge may not get the job done, so I'm teaching "paws!," which is a touch with a foot. He picked that one up right away.

I am using clicker training principles for these things, but without a clicker. I mark the behavior I want with a "YES!" And unlike "pure" clicker training, where you do not add the command until after you have taught the behavior, I use the word before the behavior. To teach the touch, I held a treat in my right hand, closed fist, and let the puppy smell the treat in my hand. Then, with a wiggling motion, I pulled my hand away from him and said "Touch!" When his nose touched my fist, I said YES! and opened my hand to give him the treat. After doing several repetitions of that, I then switched the treat to my other hand to use it as a reward rather than a lure. Same motion with empty right hand with command TOUCH - dog touches hand with nose, YES! - treat from other hand. As I progressed through a number of repetitions, my target hand became more and more passive until Pete would touch it if it were motionless and open, hanging at my side or on my lap. He's starting to nudge me now, which is what we want.

To get the "PAW" command, I went back to the closed fist with treat inside and encouraged Pete to touch my fist with a paw, at first lowering it near his feet and even touching the back of his paw with the back of my hand at first. He got that right away - he's one smart little sucker!

I've also started him on some sound work - setting off beepers and timers and associating those with the "touch" command.

Pack Management

Yes, I'm still working on getting Max to accept Pete. It's not that Max is overtly aggressive - he just doesn't know what to make of him and doesn't think before he reacts. He's getting better, though, and is learning to contain himself. Pete is at an age when puppies become quite obnoxious with other dogs. He's learning mounting behavior and thinks it's wonderful fun to pester the other dogs, who are graciously accepting the job of correcting him. I'm beginning to wish that they'd be a bit more emphatic, but thus far I trust their judgment. Cowdogs are not easy to discourage - they're bred to move cattle, after all, and can take a lot of punishment and come back for more. That's why I say the ACD is not a breed for the faint of heart. But I digress...

At least now I'm able to have them together for longer periods of time - closely supervised, of course. This is a workable situation.

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