22 Feb Private Lesson for Tys
I went out for a private lesson with Renee DeVilliers from All About Dogs. I wanted to get some feedback on other ways to improve Tyson’s behaviour. One of the challenges I’m having is that he continues to walk ahead of me and scan for dogs. As soon as he sees a dog, he barks once (bad!) but runs back to me (good!). Renee said she could help me with both the scanning and the ‘alert bark’. At High Park, Renee got to see typical Tys behaviours. Here’s her recommendations:
1. Keep him closer to me. If he’s up ahead, call him back and reinforce him for staying closer. When we are out on our own, I tend to give him the retrieving job, so he’s not scanning. He typically scans when I take him on the group walks. Often I’m distracted by the other dogs but I’m definitely going to be on top of this one.
2. If Tys gets the one bark out, I’ve lost my chance to reinforce him and I need to be more aware next time and keep him closer. I need to go get him at this point (not call him -Emily pointed out that a recall is tertiary reinforcement), change directions walk away and then turn and move forward to start a new session.
3. When we walk by other dogs, I used to feed him. I was pairing food with other dogs, hoping to change his mind about them (classical conditioning). Renee said, Tyson doesn’t care about meeting other dogs, his reward is to get away from them. This makes sense and from now on, I will get him into heel and walk past the other dogs. BTW- I’ve tried this and it already seems to be working. Besides, bringing food out in the presence of other dogs can get messy. Especially if dogs come into Tys’s face to see where the food is. I’m actually relieved to finally put the food away. Tyson’s heeling skills are definitely advanced enough that I can keep him focused in heel while we pass some dogs.
4. Up the bar on my expectations of what he should do to receive a reward when he sees a dog. Right now he just comes to me but I can make the goal that he comes directly into heel position. I like this one.
Even though I’m a trainer it’s always great to get other opinions. My emotions for my own dog cloud my judgement.