Become The Life Of A Party In Three Easy Steps

In my previous post Confessions Of A Party Pooper I explained how my dog’s behavior on walks deteriorated because I wasn’t using rewards effectively and have become less fun than environment. Now it’s time to make a plan for improvement.

I have a very analytical mind and this post contains my thinking about a problem so continue reading at your own peril. But first here’s another photo taken by my wonderful sis 🙂

(c) Stisnprtisn!

(c) Stisnprtisn!

Still with me? Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

The steps are:

  1. What is the behavior I would like to change?
  2. What is the desired behavior?
  3. Plan of action – how do I put some value into the behavior I want to see?

Thrown toys & Retrieve
Java:

  • Behavior to change:
    When I throw toys and Ruby is bringing his toy back she will try to steal it from him (and usually succeeds).
    If I throw a ball for her and then a ball for Ruby as she is returning with her ball she will drop it immediately and try to steal Ruby’s ball.
  • Desired behavior:
    Sit while Ruby retrieves his ball or retrieve her own ball without interfering with Ruby.
  • Plan of action:
    For start I would like her to sit and wait while I throw the ball for Ruby and he delivers it in my hand. After that I might start throwing the ball for her while Ruby brings it back and in that scenario I would like her to return with the ball straight to me.

Ruby:

  • Behavior to change:
    When I throw toys and Java is free he will drop the toy several times before bringing it to me. However, he will bring it directly to my hand if she is on leash 5m away from me.
  • Desired behavior:
    Bringing the toy directly to my hand even when Java is free and within 2m of me.
  • Plan of action:
    I’m not sure I need to do anything specific about it because as he will develop more confidence that Java won’t interfere with his retrieve this will probably go away on its own. However, he needs to learn to sit while I throw a ball for Java so they can take turns. Same plan as for Java above.

Recall
Ruby:

  • Behavior to change:
    Didn’t recall from rolling in the dirt. Shows less enthusiastic response to recall in general.
  • Desired behavior:
    Fast & enthusiastic recall. Instantaneous response to recall from all sorts of distractions: rolling in the dirt, peeing on bushes, running after a ball, chasing deer.
  • Plan of action:
    • I’ll play games that put a lot of value into recall, making sure he knows that ball can appear anywhere, anytime, and reward recall with food and toys interchangeably (80% toys). Lots of surprise recalls with toys.
    • I’ll transfer the value of ball to tug toys so I have a good reward for times when balls aren’t practical.
    • I’ll play recall and impulse control for 5 minutes before we go for a walk. Java waits in the car while Ruby gets to train in a new environment. I could have Java in a down-stay, but then I’m not as focused on Ruby and it shows in lesser quality of training – slower reaction time, less excitement, bad decisions etc.
    • I’ll go through all Recallers games again and test for holes in understanding + arrange controlled situations so that I can push the limits without Ruby getting reinforced for not coming.
    • Management (until taking turns with toys is established): I’ll keep one dog leashed during walks so that I am able to reward recall of the free dog with thrown toys without the other one getting in the way. And naturally I will not let him free in a situation where I might need to recall him until I am confident that he will come, which I think should be pretty soon.

Java:

  • Always comes when called, but I don’t trust her yet because I need more proof that it will work anytime, anywhere.
  • Plan of action:
    Same as Ruby’s with special emphasis on creating controlled situations in which I can test her understanding.

Taking hold of harness:
Ruby:

  • Behavior to change:
    Sometimes avoids my hand when he is doing fun things and I reach to grab his harness.
  • Desired behavior:
    Waits for my hand to grab the harness.
  • Plan of action:
    Build the value: while he is on leash and Java is free on walks I’ll periodically reach down, touch the harness & treat. I’ll also do it when he is free and checks in.
    Test the value: After a day or two I could do it while he is sniffing and build it from there.

Java:

  • Behavior to change:
    Doesn’t want me to grab her harness if Ruby is around and she thinks I’m going to throw a toy.
  • Desired behavior:
    Comes into me when I have a toy and I stretch out my hand to grab the harness.
  • Plan of action:
    She will already come into me if we’re training agility, but it all becomes different if Ruby is around.
    I’ll build some more value for grabbing the harness. Next I’ll try holding a less valued toy and grabbing the harness, then giving the toy as reward if she comes in. I will not try to catch her – she needs to move into me. If that goes well we can then use toys of higher and higher value.
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Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Become The Life Of A Party In Three Easy Steps

  1. Pingback: Retrieve Party | Ruby The Whippet

  2. Really love how detailed your step-by-step plan is!

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