Thursday, February 11, 2010

LAT with chickens, Miss Plushy part 2, village walk

Yesterday Vanya did a very nice job being calm with the chickens. His main concern with the chickens right now is getting to eat their food scraps, of course, but he can still play LAT (even though at first he thought I must have been referring to a squirrel, so he scanned the woods for squirrels rather than looking at the hens). That's fine:

We had another fun session with Miss Plushy. This time we got much closer--perhaps 12 feet away. He lunged at her once or twice, but with fairly playful body language. He was able to perform his cues, and also calm down quite a bit, which I tried to reward him well for (salmon burgers). My attempt to film this session didn't work--I got a nice video of the car by mistake. 

Another nice thing about practicing with a fake dog: I can calm way, way down. I don't have to worry about anybody getting hurt if I screw up! Even in the midst of practicing with Vanya and Miss Plushy, I could tell my heart rate and excitement were up, so repeated practice is a way to shape calmness in ME, not just in Vanya.

Not so good last night--we tried a walk in the village of Monticello, outside the grocery store. It had just gotten dark and was quite cold.  Last night, he was pretty stressed, although he could perform his cues (sit, target, heel) once we got off the main street. When I took the GL off his muzzle, he was actually a bit calmer, which is interesting.  In the fall, we went here a fair bit and he could stay reasonably calm, so his stress last night surprised me a bit. We'll try again today in Monroe, when it's bright outside and warmer.

Going well with Tiva and the chickens.


  1. Nancy, I am sooooo glad you are doing this blog/website. Your progress with Vanya gives me so much hope for Inara!

    Would it be alright if I put a link to here on my blog?

  2. Just a thought on why removing the GL might have made him seem calmer-- Suzanne Clothier has written an article on head halters where she suggests that they can cause some stress. She claims that pressure on the muzzle means something different to a dog than to a horse (the model for head halters). I've seen it work very well for some dogs, and not so well for others (my older lab X being one of the latter). I would guess it depends on the predisposition of the dog and his temperament, and is something that works on a case by case basis as with all methods of training. But she makes an interesting argument.

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