Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Lok Frustration

Training Lok has been a challenge lately. Thankfully, we haven't been dealing with shutting-down issues on his part. Lok has been unusually happy and cooperative during training sessions lately, tail wagging and such. But he's also been kind of dense. We were working on "limp" for awhile and once again got stuck. I've been working on a "hold" a TON lately and can't seem to get past 10 seconds without Lok spitting out the object. I've also discovered that "rear end awareness" does not translate to "rear foot awareness." That's right, my dog know where his butt is, but doesn't realize there are feet underneath it. I've been trying to get him to stand on a box, but all I've been able to get is a sit on the box. And if the object is too small to sit on, I can't get his back feet on it at all. I'm at a loss for what to work on with him, as it seems one of these issues is holding up every trick I want to teach him. I can't teach him to roll up in a blanket if he won't hold onto it. I can't teach him a multitude of other retreive tricks if he won't hold an object. And his retreive from the fridge trick is decidedly less impressive when he spits the object out in disgust before I have a chance to take it from him.

As his sight diminishes, I'm also having issues with him being overly distracted by the possibility that there might be treats on the floor. He can't see a treat on the floor, but he can hear it if I drop one and he will spend a good bit of time looking for it, even I pick it up or tell him to leave it. I also don't want him sniffing about for treats in my hand. It seems to be a very consuming distraction for him. So I no longer give him treats on the floor. All treats always come from my hand, and I'm hoping he'll figure that out at some point. Additionally, I'm working on teaching him that when he hears a click, the treats will come to his mouth and he doesn't have to sniff around for them.

As a side note, it is unfair of me to ask a blind dog for eye contact? Eye contact is one of my most important default/foundation behaviors. Since Lok can't really make eye contact, I'm trying to reward for other signs of being attentive to me, but sometimes I can't quite tell if he understands what he's being rewarded for.

The only thing that's been going well is Lok's "line out" training that I mentioned I was dragging my feet on a few posts back. I'm using a duct tape target on the wall. I plan to start fading the target soon. Tonight in fact (I WILL do it tonight, I WILL do it tonight . . . ). We had our first ski of the season last weekend and it went well. Lok needs to work on staying on the trail. In his defense, the trail was not all that clear, so I let it slide. Lok also needs to work on listening for direction while he's running. But he did a good job running and staying more or less in front of me. He even started to pull a bit more than last season and really helped me out up the hills. He used to stop when he felt much pressure on the harness. This time it clicked for him that he was supposed to pull hard and he seemed to love it! I need to work on not letting him roll in the snow in harness when we stop. Until his line out is solid, I should really establish a sit at heel as his stopping behavior. Must remember to bring treats. He's just so CUTE though!!


  1. it sounds like he's doing great with the pulling stuff!!!! As for the hold, I've always had issues with that one. I've never been able to simply delay the click like everyone suggests. but if you got 10seconds then that confuses me since he must understand the concept?

    What finally worked with Vito was doing a "doggy zen" game. Basically I put dumbbell in his mouth and immediately held a treat out to the side. At first Vito dropped it right away, as usual, but then he realized that in all other situations he didn't get the treat unless he ignored the treat. so having the treat out allowed him to focus for a tiny bit and soon I had a 3 second hold. it was also very visual that dropping dumbbell made the treat disappear. from there it was easy to get to 30 seconds, it was just getting past the 1sec mark that was hard. but i have no idea what to suggest with Lok

  2. Yeah, I also had a really hard time teaching a hold in the beginning. I think he understands the concept and he loves retreiving, but I think he just doesn't like holding something in his mouth that long.

    My idea was to try to work more on a cued drop. So rather than getting a click for a hold and the click ending the behavior, he gets a click for a drop, but only a drop on cue. If he drops it before the drop is cued, obviously, no treat. That's actually been working to help eliminate chomping while he's holding, but I still can't get past 10 seconds with the dumbell and even less with other objects. Maybe I need to use higher value rewards.