Curb the Urge:
Closer to the triggers! Try ALL the things!
We’ve made it to week 6! Congrats on all of your hard with so far.
As we continue to get our dogs to be more comfortable responding to us with prey or another awesome distraction in place, I want you to think about how you can best face these things utilizing all you have learned in this class. When should you use Premack? When should you use the OLMEC System? Which Step of the System should you use? How close can you get/how much can you do before your dog goes over threshold?
While the answers to these questions will be totally dog and situation dependent, they are definitely something to think about during your training!
Let’s start with our prey situation, either using your flirt pole or another thing that your dog lacks control in the face of. In this case, I’m going to be bringing back Jari and the hose issue.
You can see that in this first video, he’s doing pretty well! The hose isn’t turned on as high as usual (he knows the sound of the hose, too, so it’s been something we’ve had to condition him to be relatively calm with!), and you can see that even then he’s still pretty excited. I reward with cheese as he’s holding a down position (he put himself there, BTW!), then the BIG reward is releasing him to play (a la Premack!).
Now, we have another repetition wherein the hose is on higher! He’s already gotten very excited during the first rep from when he was released to play, so you can see that I just wait him out, and reward any calm I get. Calm is relative in this case! I’ll take approximations!
Again, rewarding with some hose play at the end.
This last repetition is pretty good. I reward with hose play much quicker based on the information I had received during the previous attempt.
While we still have work to do with this, I want you to take note of a few things. I’m changing my behavior and expectations based on what Jari gives me. I go from food rewards to play, and I gauge which one based on how he is acting. I don’t want him to fail - instead, I want to vary what I do to set him up for success!
Here is a clip from a walk with Jari and Kimma wherein we are walking by a rabbit. You can see how it takes a TON of control for him to not totally lose it, and that I am using his body language to guide my reactions. When should I try to call him to me? Stand still? When should I reward? Should I just bail, or cross the street?
He’s squeaky, but SO MUCH BETTER than he used to be. This will always be a work in progress, due to his crazy high prey drive, but that’s OK! We will continue to chip away at this little by little.
OLMEC Step 3 with Person/Other Dog Friend
Remember hand touches? Time to bring those back! This will be a combination of a few steps. You need a solid Step 2 to get to your dog’s favorite person and then the person will move out their hand, making it a Step 3 situation.
Now here’s the BIG thing about this, we want the dog to touch the other person’s hand, and then you swoop in to reward and bring them back towards you. They already like that person, we don’t need to add to it by having them give your dog food!
You can then have your person move towards you to start, and set up other scenarios based on what you want to work on.
Now for dog friend work: Review the previous lectures for the person work, and substitute person for dog friend. Once you are solid on those steps, we can do some OLMEC Step 3 work with that.
You would then get to end with letting the two dogs greet and then pulling them back to you for a reward.
Building Up Your “Requirements”
As I mentioned at the beginning of this class, everyone’s requirements are going to be different. We all have different types of dogs, different personalities, and with different backgrounds. In addition, we all have different goals for our dogs, and different house rules. Things that matter to me might not matter to someone else, even with the same breed!
Remember to always support your dogs in the tough situations and celebrate your successes, no matter how small. While it is not the end of the world if your dog fails, we do want to evaluate progress constantly while working on these exercises.
Build up your requirements slowly, and don’t worry if you have to repeat a step for a while or have to switch between steps - now that you have all these tools in your toolbox, you can be so much better prepared for anything that comes your way!
Get closer to the triggers and lower the thresholds. Slow and steady - pay attention to the signals your dog is giving you. Sometimes it’s better to quit while you’re ahead and celebrate the small successes!
Complete OLMEC Step 3 with a person and/or dog friend. Tell us how you did.
Share your plan going forward.
I also wanted to say THANK YOU to my amazing students. I am so proud of your progress and I look forward to hearing all about your future progress in the community. You are now proud members of #TeamSelectiveHearing and I can’t wait to hear about your future exploits. Get out there and show the world your amazing Couch Wolves!