I need to work on treat delivery and training mechanics. I have been to a couple of puppy classes where I got to work with adorable munchkins, and I am slow and clumsy (ha ha, just like the puppies!). When I take pnut+cone for walks and need to give him counter conditioning treats, it is such a mess, with him jumping up and smearing food all over his cone or getting it stuck to his chin. I knew that usually he sort-of jumps up to get treats while we walk, but I didn’t think it was a big problem. I have certainly heard that mechanics are crucial and treat delivery, especially for counter conditioning, should be straight to the mouth.
When we are out walking, he is almost always far enough away from me that I have to call him to me in order to feed, which changes the situation from counter conditioning to operant conditioning. This is bad. For whatever reason, during today’s walk, he mostly stayed right by me, making things a lot easier. Also in the last day I have seen improvement in terms of him keeping “four on the floor” for treats while walking, which I gleefully attribute to my realizing that I feed too high and trying to keep it lower.
A friend of mine is attending Chicken Camp with Bob Bailey, which I would absolutely love to do. Though at this point it would probably be more than I can handle. I read through the descriptions for his courses, and just as I pretty much knew, they are almost all about mechanics – speed, coordination, cutting out “noise”. I am so sure that I have awful mechanics, but I get away with it because my dog is a genius. For this reason, I am extremely grateful for the chances to work with puppies, with short attention spans requiring high rates of reinforcement and constant engagement.


Cheese & Hot Dogs

I’m not sure why I was so brain dead the first couple of days when I had to clean dog’s wounds and didn’t use food at all. I mean, he may never like it, but it can at least be a little more tolerable when yummies are involved! So today I grabbed the hot dogs and stuffed a couple in his face when I had a spare hand. My kind Mother holds him every day for the cleaning (terrible that he has to be forcibly restrained, I know 😦 ) and this morning he scratched her arms up good in his efforts to escape. But by the evening cleaning, he was much calmer about it. That is only three short trials using food, after two days of not, and already results are obvious! Note to self: don’t be a dummy; use food!

But where does the cheese come in? Every time he gets his 3 half pills of antibiotic, which is twice a day, I wrap each half in a bit of cheese. Yum! Cheese! And what a perfect time to train, when he is already getting delicious cheese. So yesterday and today, when I have given him the cheese in private, I preceded it with a tissue near the cone in order to counter condition to paper near his face. However, when other people were around, I felt terribly stupid doing so. Instead I settled for saying his name. In conclusion, I did not do what I said I was going to, which was do sessions to counter condition him to tissues near the cone. I felt an odd sense of responsibility, like I ought to do what I wrote on my blog that I was going to do. Really though, who is keeping track?! Obligation to a blog is not a source of stress I need to add to my life.

In happy news, the dog took a couple of cheerful walks today, finally pooped, and had a great time trying to get his ball while wearing the cone. It was so funny! He gets the ball between his paws, but can’t reach it with his mouth. He ends up trying to bite it through the cone, or pawing it until it is batted away and then runs and pounces on it. Endless hours of entertainment and I didn’t even have to chase him around to steal the ball! * And when I took him out for the first walk, he was so cheery, he practically bounced along the street! We ran into my Dad at the park (who was literally running). We had seen him maybe 5 minutes prior but Peanut jumped right up on him in a joyful greeting stretch. What a cutie.

In 100% not dog news, I painted a postcard today. I am proud.

*If I wanted to/was smart, I could use clicker training/shaping/positive reinforcement to teach him to bring me the ball and drop it at my feet or in my hand. I prefer to suffer.