Thursday, January 5, 2012
Meet the Professor!
Say hello to my new foster/training project! This is The Professor! Terrible name, but I refuse to change it--dogs whose name I change seem to end up staying for good, and besides, he can't hear it anyway! He's deaf and partially blind. At least, that's what I was told. In reality, I think his vision and hearing are just fine, but his brain doesn't process things right. He has some pretty clear brain damage--the effects are similar to Helen (a short-term foster from this summer) but MUCH more mild!
He's been here for almost a week now. Training him has been interesting to say the least! It is a work in patience, for sure. I feel this is much like training an invertebrate would be. He learns, that's for sure--but I'm not sure how! He doesn't seem to think much during training. He caught on to a hand touch within 5 seconds, but I think that is just instinctual. The hand might have food in it! I planned to teach him a sit, but we have some MAJOR impulse control issues around food and it wasn't happening. So I taught him a spin instead. He learned this pretty well, but it's still lured--just an extension of his hand target behavior. Which is fine. He won't respond to a verbal cue (see: the deaf/brain damaged thing). As long as he can DO the spin, that is all he needs. He compulsively circles and spins to the left, so if his new home works on spin right most days that should help balance out his muscle development.
Ah, impulse control. Not only is he insane about food, but he compulsively paces, circles, and spins. He knows (I think he hears) when I open the food container and starts throwing a fit--from a different room, behind closed doors!! Our first real training session I had to keep him moving with touches and spins, or else he was barking. Sit has been out of the question. We've been slowing working on it. He is slowly improving. We actually have a sit now! For a few days I had to lure his nose with food while pressing on his butt so he couldn't jump up or back up. Then a light touch on his butt with the food in front of his nose. Now sometimes he will sit with just the light touch and no food lure. I still have to shovel the food in his mouth FAST or he gets up. I still am not convinced he knows what he's doing or is making any conscious effort to learn, but he's clearly learning, so . . . . Of course any time he offers a sit (I use "offer" loosely, really he just happens to sit) or standing nicely and quietly he gets rewarded.
We are also working on yielding to collar pressure, walking nicely on a leash, hanging out nicely while tethered to me. Oh, and potty training (ugh).
Other than that, he's a fabulous puppy! Mellow, happy, playful (too playful--my dogs hate him). Here is his blog! Please share it and lets find this little guy a home of his own!