Doggie DI Boot Camp–Day Two

Above: USMC Military Bobble Head: The Doggie DI!

Will wonders never cease? I awoke without any sore muscles–perhaps the soak in epsom salt helped. The washer did wonders for my uniform but at least I have a bunch.

On my way to boot camp, I picked up a large travel crate for eventual transport of the deliquent duo.

Arrival went as expected. The two jumped up on the fencing and I had to keep backing away, praising for their correction, and then repeating the same thing over and over again.

People seem to miss that correction. If a dog jumps in excitement and behaves badly, the reprimand is the withdrawal. When they have all four paws back on the ground, they get praise and I advance. If they make another mistake, I repeat the process until they don’t engage in the behavior. The reward is forward movement AND my entry into the enclosure when they behaved as required.

Yes, sometime it takes a while.

Once in the dogs refrained from the insane jumping. The would “forget” and place their paws on the crates but they are no longer jumping on me. As for the “crate” behavior–it was as if it was never taught. Back to square one EXCEPT that I could see some progress.

The leash and collar work for instance, they actually are more manageable when it comes to that. For most household dogs the leash becomes the stimulus for a walk. So, they go crazy, crazy, when they see it. It has a very positive association. However, this needs to be managed to avoid injury and other such consequences.

In this case, when they get to crazy, I just drop the leash and collars. (The two can’t wear normal collars because they tear them off each other and have fun shredding them.) This stops the crazy behavior–and if they try to grab them in their mouths–they get a syringe of water between the eyes.

Most of the time I squirt my human students….and for some sick reason…my human students like it–but I digress.

After progress with the leash and head halters, we did more whistle and clicker training. I worked with “A” while “B” stayed crated in the interior room–screaming and pitching a fit over the separation.

Sibling animals are a pain on several levels. The separation anxiety is horrible and I didn’t want to reward the crazed behavior by placing the other dog back into the room.

You might understand this better with a barking dog analogy. If you ever lived around a barking dog you’ll understand. First, the dog barks and the owner usually tells it to shut up. However, as the owner gets tired and ceases to hear the barking and take action right away, the duration gets longer. This essentially raises the duration of the behavior–because the behavior is rewarded.

To the dog, attention (or coming in) is the reward. Dogs don’t discern “good” from “bad” attention unless taught. So, how the barking behavior escalates is that first, maybe a couple of minutes of barking gets the desired result, but later, it keeps working up in time so that it might be as much as 45 minutes–or all day in some cases. What happens is that the dog will bark as much as it takes to get what it wants. Something that might have stopped after five minutes now requires 45 minutes–or all day.

Is that clear? The process is like pole vaulting, you keep raising the bar and never get to go back. The reward keeps the bar in place or gets it raised higher. The same thing happens in behavior.

Anyway, back to the dogs. I couldn’t put “A” back into the room and reward “B” for the bad behavior so I worked the “A” on gating (three different gates) and then gave her free time in the playpen.

“B” actually had to be taught to give eye contact–heavens, I actually was able to get it. She is pretty submissive and so hesitates but she is giving eye contact and a sit behavior when working on the clicker.

One of the things I encourage is free association. If the dog decides to replace a bad behavior with another one, such as the sit with eye contact, I will accept it and praise. A long time ago some trainers coined this DRO, differential reinforcement of other behavior. Basically, it is replacing one behavior with another that is incompatible.

It gets annoying all the acronyms and this trend of making up new terms when the other older and established ones are just fine. I tend to steer away from terminology–my clients don’t really care. If they want to impress their friends–sure. Otherwise, it is a bit arrogant to toss terms around. It seems to be a trend with the academics and those in the corporate world looking for proprietary terms. I remember going to a conference of primatologists and hearing the same behavior called by four different labels!

Anyway, the two dogs are heavily bonded so that separation creates big trauma and causes escalated yipping and jumping. I took “A” over to the pen that housed “B” later in the session and was fortunate to get an event to help extinuish the behavior pattern–I’ll get to see if it is actually extinguished tomorrow.

Today we still have to work on “off” but the jumping behavior is drastically reduced. “B” is a victim of external stimuli and so can’t help herself. BUT she is better and is trying. She is more submissive and I believe she will actually be the better working animal once all is said and done.

The good thing about today is that both dogs learned was that pushiness and jumping do not result in attention or petting. They both gave me sits during a session where I was perched on a hay bale during play time. In the past, they would have rushed up, pushing and jumping in their attempts to get attention. Since that did not work, (but my syringe and withdrawing did) they actually learned that quiet behavior and sitting would result in body hugs, petting, and lots of cooing…err, praise.

On the leash work adventure, which also serves to get us all the exercise we need, and helps the dog maintain better behavior, they were a little bit better but not much. They are learning to yield to the line and will rest and stand quietly for attention instead of pushing and competing for it as in the past.

“A” doesn’t get that her position is to walk on the left of “B” but “B” understands where she should be. Interesting to watch them progress and see the areas where each is better.

The goal to finish these two is actually 14 days but since I don’t think that will happen I’ve given the owners 30 days for the same fee. It would be nice to finish up early but at the moment I am really liking just working the two. They don’t learn as well as other animals I have meet and are probably in the top five worst animals I’ve worked with category–at least for dogs.

My career started with just working animals and that is my favorite thing to do. I got into just working humans and their animals in the late 80’s.

Doggie Boot Camp is great since the weather is pretty cool in the am but nice in the afternoon and I am enjoying being outdoors with the critters and watching them learn. I wore a cap today because the sun is so intense. I have so much hair that it is hard to stuff it under a cap–visors usually are what I prefer. Anyway, I got the hat to work by french braiding my locks.

As for me, I think I stink today because I smell like dog and have a nice layer of dust in my pores, embedded inside and outside of my shoes–and although my uniform is not as bad as yesterday’s–it is a close second.

Okay, I am off to teach my class but I’ll check in tomorrow…had good news from a cat client today–one appointment and no more peeing on the beds. Love when people follow directions and take me seriously and since the behavior has been ongoing for over a year–I am a hero in their eyes!

About Ark Lady

+ArkLady Enhances the Lives of Animals & Empowers the People Who Love Them! Join the armchair safari or connect via ARKlady website.