21 Oct Reactive Dog Regression
Whenever there’s a regression in my dog’s training is an opportunity for me to see where my training has broken down; what I need to work on. Tyson has been so good for so long that I have gotten lazy. I’ve been stingy with my reinforcements. Last week was really bad. It seemed like he once again has no tolerance for puppies and little self-control over dogs he didn’t like. I was frustrated with him, thinking: he should know this, he should do this, he should be able to tolerate this. So I put him in time-out at the dog park after he snapped at another dog. When he came out of time-out, he actually seemed better, tolerating the dog that he didn’t like. But then something small sent him over the edge and I would never have expected it. It was a dog that walks with us all the time that tried to get his ball. He completely went berserk on him, making tons of noise and chasing him around the park. Nothing makes me feel like a worse trainer that my own dog exhibiting bad behaviour. So we are back to the basics. I’m following Susan Garrett’s Ruff Love program to get him on track again. This means lots of handfeeding, and lots of crate time. Emily thinks Tyson’s regression is because I stopped bringing good treats and she’s probably right. My reinforcement rate has been low and my reinforcement value has also been terrible. She pointed out that Tyson’s recall has also gotten worse.
This incident was also a wake-up call for Tyson’s behaviour around the ball. When he’s in ball mode, he’s often too aroused to do training. I haven’t worked much on this because I like when he’s in ball mode, it’s the time when he’s easiest to exercise and focused. Moving forward I realize that I can work with this state of arousal by trying to make him work more in exchange for the ball. The simplest exercise is to get him to target my hand before he gets a ball toss. He has a hard time with this one.
Oh Tyson… always keeping my on my toes as a trainer and reminding me that I still have a lot to learn.