Thursday, April 14, 2011

yes, we're still working the plan

Oreo and I are still hard at work dealing with his fears.

Everyday on our walk, we work on heeling & sit/stays with attention.  Overall, I feel as though Oreo is learning to look toward me when he sees something that would have previously sent him into a frenzy.

However, we still have a long way to go, and I realize this training will never be over for Oreo. 

Often, it can be difficult to catch him below threshold, because he can go from calm to crazed in a millisecond.  Luckily, he is recovering quickly from reactions, and the attention behaviors I have taught him are key to calming him.

Below are some videos and our behaviorist's responses to them. I'm only sharing because I know many of my readers have dogs with fear/reactivity, and you might find them & the doctor's responses helpful. I won't be insulted if you don't watch them, because they are long, tedious, and boring!

Both videos were shot when no people were around, although Oreo had just barked his head off at a couple deer, who were completely unphased by his barking!  

This is what our behaviorist said about the video:

There were some marvelous attention spots where you said yes and timing great—maybe would be worthy of a treat. When you reached that hard corner—some more parallel work might have helped ie he is not turned about to retreat in the same line over and over. You did a little of that later on. Also, how about some break out in the middle for a game or toss a batch of treats instead of always heel / sit?

Here is another video working mostly on sit/stays:

Here is her response to that work:
You guys look great. You are one dedicated trainer! Nice attention and nice spontaneous checking with you. Experiment with the reward there since you do want to maintain that behavior.

What I have been doing when we see something that would typically cause Oreo to panic, is feeding him until he calms enough to look at me (sometimes we have to increase our distance from the person). Then, I ask him for the learned behaviors, so he has something else to do besides panic.

Our biggest issue in everyday life are my next door neighbors. That is going to be one of my main areas to work on this summer.  Today, Jeff tells me, Oreo was able to pee while one neighbor was walking through the yard!  Oreo never took his eye off him, but he peed!  Wow.  That was huge.


Ricky the Sheltie said...

You ARE dedicated and you are doing so great with Oreo! These dogs are hard work but so worth it all! Congratulations on the progress you are making and I hope Oreo learns o finally relax with your neighbors around this summer!

Dawn said...

You are one of the most dedicated trainers I've seen. Must be the teacher in you. Oreo is so lucky you're his. That first video, at 2:09 you guys were so still for so long I thought the video was OVER! LOL. Thanks for sharing. I learn a lot from the things you work on.

houndstooth said...

You're definitely very dedicated! Not only does Oreo have great obedience skills, but he also does some pretty impressive tricks. I like how you've identified your problem and are tackling it in steps that are achievable! I think that's where a lot of people go wrong.

Priscilla said...

I definitely agree with everyone's comments!! I am hardly as dedicated as you when it comes to training Eva!! :D
I love watching both of you working together. Good luck for this summer's neighbour training!!!

Kathy said...

FANTASTIC WORK, and Oreo sure looks like he has had so much progress, the checking in seems terrific, and gosh he sure has a beautiful heel. What a pretty place to train, it sounds so pretty with the birds and seems like such a relaxing place.

Diana said...

You guys look great! Im glad Oreo is making progress.

Jules said...

That's awesome you are seeing improvements in Oreo's daily life!

Amy Wood said...

Great job in both videos. Thanks for sharing. I know I benefit from reading what you have here. All three of mine have issues with fear, some are worse than others.
Glad Oreo was comfortable enough to pee while your neighbor was around. It's an everyday act we take for grant, but when a dog is scared it really can give you a gauge on their fear level. When I first took Scotty and Star to my sister's house for a visit neither would pee. Scotty held it for 12 hours and Star for 24 - no kidding. I was literally with them every second because they wouldn't leave me out of their sight. I was getting scared, but my vet assured me that when they really had to go they would go, fear slows down their system. They haven't gone back after that, so I'm not sure how they would do on a second trip. After seeing how much they freaked out, I didn't want to do that to them again.

Sophie said...

You guys really are dedicated, and looking great! I especially liked his checking in with you during the sit/stays. He's definitely got a much greater ability to stay still for a long time than Lola!

I'm so thrilled for you that Oreo was able to be relaxed enough to pee with your neighbours out and about. That's a great sign of things to come.

Honey the Great Dane said...

I think it's so great what you're doing and Oreo is so lucky to have you. And so nice of you to share the videos - I know there are LOADS of dogs & owners with similar issues who would be very interested.

And I think we all have dogs with different "issues" that are an ongoing training thing all through life. For instance, although Honey isn't a "fearful" dog as such, she can also be reactive in certain situations (eg, she is VERY bad with aggressive dogs behind fences) and because of her size, even just a bit of reactivity from her can totally overwhelm me - so I have to constantly work with her, all the time, to make sure that she always makes the right choices when she is provoked and thinking of reacting.

So I can totally empathise!