Madness

Madness, as in craziness, and as in angriness (apparently that’s not a word…how unfortunate).

I feel as though I have made zero progress, ahem, dogress this entire summer. Today on walkies I picked him up because two dogs came racing out of their front yard where they were loose, barking and growling at him. Not friendly like at least the last guy was. The owner got up from where she was working and eventually got their attention. And was kind enough to ask if I was okay. It’s one thing to have your friendly dog loose – still irresponsible, but understandable at least. But it’s another thing entirely to have multiple obnoxious and potentially vicious dogs completely uncontrolled, just waiting for somebody to walk by to pounce on them. Hng!

But it led me to thinking where the blame for pnut’s lack of progress really lies. And the truth is, first and foremost with me. I will not say that I don’t believe these owners and other impolite and uninformed persons aren’t also hindrances to dogress. Most certainly pnut is not at all to blame. The lack of thought and time I have put in to training him are what matter the most.

It’s interesting, because this is a field that challenges me like no other. (Dog training, that is.) When other projects and hobbies become difficult (ie I reach the asymptotal part of the learning curve), I generally quit. And when other projects and hobbies don’t go as planned or turn out their best, I can just shrug and ignore them. Pnut, however, is not a project that is likely to go away any time soon*, nor can I shrug and ignore him when he is barking his brains out at a stranger, though evidently some people can. It is very important to me that he become comfortable meeting new people. Not only would this simplify my life significantly, but I could not help but count it as a personal victory, that we overcame his fears. Obviously the most important reason for working towards more confidence is to make life more pleasant for him.

One more complaint before I go. It is, in my opinion, a huge source of stress for pnut when the door opens or is knocked on or the doorbell rings. Therefore, I have put some time into ds/ccing him to these events. Unfortunately, mis padres siempre try to “help”. There is no way to tell them off without offending them. I worked today with peanut outside so that he could see there was nobody there, and the sound of the doorbell was muffled. While I was feeding during the doorbell ringing, somebody knocked loudly and several times on the other side of the door right next to us. This put pnut’s fur all a-bristly and his tail at attention as his eating turned very sharky, all indicating a high level of arousal, which is exactly what I do not want. I terminated the session then. And such things as this constantly occur when I try to work with nutnut on this huge problem. I knock once and feed. Knock once and feed. Knock once and feed. Knock once and – somebody on the other side of the house bangs on a wall for 10 seconds to “help”. Uy. I just want to bang my own head against the wall sometimes.+

* My parents have each independently asked whether I am taking him with me when I return to school…and my Father offered to care for him if I have no other way to find a place to live. So much for them never taking care of my dog, as they claimed so adamantly when I adopted him! They clearly secretly at least half-hope that I leave him behind for them to love and fatten up.

Advertisements

Delivery

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.

Treat Trio for Counter Conditioning on Walkies

“Let’s get to it”

-Michael Bolton

 

Three walks today, two with me and one with Pa. Reportedly on the first walk he barked at a lady gardening who greeted him, as well as the neighbour who greeted him from the window of his truck. Not bad, but also no good for him. Or his reputation – I am going for “dream dog”.

I chose to keep both walks in the neighbourhood after he was so tense walking around the mall yesterday. On the second walk, after dinner, we saw a lady jogging, some toddlers playing loudly and their moms yelling intermittently, a pair of beautiful quiet yellow dogs walking with their man, and some average sketchy Asian people (somebody ahem pnut has a problem with Asian people…they are always walking slowly and backwards and with umbrellas and visors and other suspicious items). I felt that this was an extremely successful walk, until we were back on our street and a man on a bike with a big white dog was following us and catching up quickity split! 😦 Pnut noticed and kept turning around to stare as I tried to hurry him along, stuffing treats in his piehole the whole while; we were only a couple of houses away when the other dog began whining. It seemed to me (though it’s not like I have a degree in animal behaviour or anything, hardy-har-har) that the dog wanted simply to greet Pnut. Or maybe it was “jealous” that Pnut was getting treats. Whatever. Either way, Pnut was rather alarmed at this development and I ended up intermittently pulling to get him home – not a good thing to do, as it simply adds stress and discomfort to the situation, but it is preferable to standing there and letting the other dog come by while Pnut (presumable) stares on in paralyzing horror.

On our earlier walk, we passed by a guy cutting tree branches who offered us one to throw, and an elderly couple pushing a stroller. As we passed the elderly couple, we were going past a guy playing basketball in his front yard, and just up the street was another person approaching as well as a man using power gardening tools (?). Before that, there were a couple of very little kids riding bikes and yelling, which just happened to be very near two people walking and talking who then parted ways as an SUV pulled up. Jeepers, on that walk all of the triggers managed to group themselves! But he did wonderfully.

In fact, I can’t believe how well he did today! The two golden dogs appeared only a few metres away from behind some bushes, and while Pnut was visibly alarmed, he did not bark or even growl, and was able to stay with me and respond when I called him. This is incredible! Not to mention him not reacting at the man with the branches who spoke to us – we managed to have an entire exchange without being interrupted by barking, which my conversations on walks generally are. On a related but totally insignificant note, the branches were huge, longer than my room (I know you don’t know how big that is but measuring things is for wussies), and the dog is 12 lbs, and the man said “If you need a stick to throw, I’ve got plenty.”. Thanks bro, always looking out for a dog in need.

Anywho, super pooper! Heh. Super proud of pnutterbutter. I also walked 3 dogs today at the shelter and took my friend’s dog to be boarded. Dog day!

And I have decided that there is an ideal combination of treats for counter conditioning on walks. It is the beautiful trio of freeze dried crunchy liver (Crouch? Grouch?), Zuke’s minis, and Orijen treats. I am currently using vitality bars (don’t recall the brand) as a substitute for Orijen because I ran out when I dropped my treat bag somewhere during the first walk. Hmph. They are pretty good too. Recently, I have been considering whether perhaps straight up hooman meat – I mean, meat designated for consumption by hoomans – is cheaper than dog treats. Thoughts?