Friday, May 15, 2009

Careless Driving

If the legislature really wants to prevent accidents, they should forget about drunk driving and crack down on what I was doing yesterday!

Jun likes to keep me on my toes. She can't make life too easy for me, because, well, what fun would that be? Jun is now wonderful in her crate at home and in her crate at comps. She used to be good in her crate in the car. She decided that was too boring. So after enduring a couple months of shrill, ear-piercing deaf-dog barking in the car I finally decided I had to do something about it.

Step number 1: Figure out why the dog is engaging in the undesirable behavior. In Jun's case, it turned out to be overstimulation from watching all the cars pass by and wanting to chase them. Typical border collie behavior, a-typical Jun behavior, but like I said, she likes to mix it up. Oh well. As I always say, you work with the dog you have today, and today I have a motion-reactive dog.

Step number 2: Develop a plan to manage the behavior so the dog will not be practicing bad behavior while you do step number 3. This one was easy. Cover the crate. She can't see the cars outside. No barking! Now I have an unsightly blue packing blanket covering Jun's crate in the car. Not to mention, when it gets a little hotter, she will be roasting in there. So management is not the ideal permanent solution here. On to Step 3.

Step number 3: Develop and implement a plan to addres the root causes of the behavior. Jun needs to learn to be calm and settled while riding in the car with cars and other things zooming by outside. The plan, basic but effective. Reward good behavior. Prevent to the extent possible and otherwise ignore bad behavior. Classic positive reinforcement training strategy. Unfortunately, not so easy to do when you have to do it while driving (and unlike many car issues, I couldn't work on it while stationary, because she's quiet when the car's not moving). So we start the drive with two sides of the crate un-covered. Jun starts barking, I reach back to cover the crate. Jun is quiet for a minute or two, I reach back to uncover the crate. Jun is sitting or laying calmly and quietly in the crate, I feed treats every 15 to 30 seconds or so. Jun barks once. I cover the crate. Rinse and repeat. While trying to remember to watch the cars in front of me, lest they slam on their breaks, stay in my own lane, stop at stoplights, etc. Easier said than done. But I'm happy to report that Jun had a very successful trip to class and back last night!

So, I'm realizing my blog is seriously lacking in pictures. Too bad I'm not more of a photographer, but here are some black and whites I took with my crappy little point and shoot last night. Taking picture of a black dog in low light is really hard. Especially when the dog's pupils are reflective and take up his entire eye, due to PRA.


  1. MAN! I was hoping you were going to reveal the answer to your forum challenge here. Lol!
    Guess cheating isn't the way, is it...

    Love the pictures! Black and white dogs really are hard to photograph. Blue eyed black and white dogs are even harder to photograph!

  2. Yeah, I was going to post about that incident, but I figured you'd read it and have the answer. Couldn't have that now could we?