Sunday, September 5, 2010

training challenge #5 ~ u-turns

This is most likely our last training challenge for a little while. School starts Tuesday. That is going to be my challenge!

Oreo and I have been working on "u-turns". An easy thing to teach. Basically, while walking, I say "u-turn" and we walk in the opposite direction.

We started in the backyard, and then this week we have been doing spontaneous u-turns on our morning walks.

My goal is to keep it fun, light hearted and very rewarding.

Ultimately, I would like to use u-turns when Oreo is in situations he finds highly stressful, particularly where desensitization/counter conditioning methods have failed. I feel like, at times, I have been feeding his fears. With the u-turn, I can reward him for following my cue, plus Oreo will have the added reward of moving away from what is scaring him. Then maybe we'll be able to move gradually closer, using u-turns as needed.

That's my thinking anyway! We'll see how it works in real life later. For now, I want u-turn to become an automated response. We are pretty close to reaching that goal. Here is a snippet of our training:

Next, we'll practice it at our agility class, where he feels relatively comfortable, with a manageable amount of stress.


Dawn said...

Looks like Oreo is moving into the obedience world! :) Is he always on the right side of you when you go on walks? If not, also practice going the other way, so you're not turning into him. On the other hand, if you want to get into obedience he should learn about you turning into him! And then he'd be on your left side all the time.

Dawn said...

oops I meant to say, if he's always on your right, practice turning right, so he gets used to that just in case you need to! Blame it on Katie whining to go out and making me hurry!

Diana said...

Its looking really good. I hope the begining of school good smoothly. Diana

Rob said...

Hi Sara, I'm glad you did a video for us to watch because when you said about saying "U-Turns" and walking off in the opposite direction I thought, 'thats easy' me and Scampi do that all the time but now I see you mean together as a single unit and not you going one way and the dog going the other! By the way Misty says, 'Look I can do it too'!

Katie, Meeka and Maizey said...

Sara this is a really cool idea! With Maizey I have had some recommend not backing her away from the stimuli she reacts to and some say too do that, but I love some many things about this idea. Do you feel keeps you a team? Sometimes when backing up she just stays focused on the stimuli for a long time, this lets you stay connected while she gets rewarded for doing her 'job' and gets to a safer under threshold distance. I would love to post on this after I see how it will go! Thanks for the inspiration!

AC said...

Very cool cue. I think I need to teach this to Kona. Have you heard of BAT training? Perhaps that's what you're modeling this after? I'm just learning about it and have started working with Kona in the neighborhood using some BAT techniques. It's worth looking up if you haven't heard about it. There are some helpful Youtube videos up.

Sara said...

I have watched some BAT videos. It is very interesting stuff, from what I've seen. I have a consulatation set up with a board certified veterinary behaviorist in October. I'm hoping that she is able to give me some techniques designed specifically for Oreo's needs. I am at the point where I feel I need a trained doctor's help for Oreo's fears.

Katie, Meeka & Maizey,

I hope this helps! Anything is worth a shot, right?

Kathy said...

We did U turns in our reactive dog class in the past, I love how those work for that, and now we are doing them for working on the dog paying attention to the handler, great for reading your body language in agility-How many really fantastic things can one exercise do---U turns are awesome and Oreo and you look like you are doing FANTASTIC!!! Good work and Good luck on going back to work, hope the transition is easy and goes fast ;-)

Ricky the Sheltie said...

Hey - that's a fantastic idea - u-turns may be the perfect thing for Oreo. It may be impossible for him to stress over stuff when he u-turns and looks up at you and changes his focus so quickly. He has nice attention - maybe you should try rally some time and that would be another way for him to get more focused in a ring.

Good luck with the start of school! I'll miss your formal participation in the challenge but I know you are really participating every day whether you officially post it or not.