Monday, April 27, 2009

4 months!

Eclipse has been here for four months today! With just under two weeks left, it's hard to believe our time together is coming to an end.

We've been working hard on his commands, not real rigid but more of generalizing. Recently I've noticed that his "heel", "side" and "closer" specifically aren't generalized enough, meaning while he's well-behaved in public he's not properly placed.

I was attempting to correct it with plain kibble, which of course was a no-go /grin/ So Coreena and I went to the pet store the other day to find some small, soft (to be broken up) training treats. I found some that would have worked well but someone left the den door open while we were gone and Teddy ate them all /sigh/ Yes, he's an opprotunistic brat.

So yesterday we went to Petco to see their assortment of training treats. We ended up foregoing the treats Joy uses as they cause Eclipse to get some really bad gas, are a little more expensive, are a little "greasy" and break in half and while small to begin with I like them to be even smaller /grin/ So we ended up getting some 101 training treats that have real liver in them that break up Really easily, travel in a pocket well and I figured Eclipse would love them! (I've had them before when working with Teddy on some of his commands) We also got a 24 oz bag of Charlee Bear liver flavored cracker-like treats that, as mentioned in the last post, work very well to re-direct the boy as well as reward for "go to (your) blanket", "nudge", "up", "stay", etc that doesn't need a quick response again right after the reward ("let's go", puppy push-ups, "heel", "side", "closer" and similar).

So, after we went to Petco we went to Wal-Mart to get some things. Some of the 101 treats went in my pocket and while Eclipse had been keeping position in a "let's go" extremely well all day every now and then I'd offer him a very small piece of a treat for walking nicely. We also worked on "heel", "side" and "closer" as well as "leave it". With some higher value treats he's generalizing that those are good things to do anywhere and not just at home and is doing well in public.

Yesterday we also went up to the school by my house to do some work on walking appropriately, paying attention, "watch me", "go in", "lap", "up" and "visit" in a new (-ish) environment. He again did well, maintaining his commands well.

On that note, I'm Finally getting used to predominately positive reinforcement training. With guide dogs the majority of training is through negative reinforcement (collar corrections). This gets a certain degree of behaviour but for some dogs simply doesn't work. I could correct Eclipse all day long for not maintaining position in a "let's go" but it would do zero good. I could also turn into him all day, again, little done unless he's tired /wink/ However, reinforcing the loose leash with him walking in a "heel" position with a high value treat has greatly improved his walking. He was Horrible, but not where I would like him to be. After only two sessions with a good treat, he's doing much better.

Correcting was also doing little to deter him from "dancing" and jumping (not on, just UP) at people when they enter the room. However, by redirecting with a liver treat (we use mainly the charlee bear treats at home as they're cheaper and harder to pack around in a pocket) he's able to not focus on the person coming into the room and relax.

I think I'm going to enjoy continuing to learn and implement various positive training techniques that will come in handy in many parts of my life /grin/

Happy four months, buddy! (I know you're enjoying your new liver treats!)

Ally & Alex w/ Eclipse, Teddy & Kira

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