Tuesday, February 9, 2010

fall 2009: the wonderful manners minder

Youtube clips from Fall 2009:

For my birthday, I got a Manners Minder. Oh wonderful thing!

I started by following the excellent training DVD to teach Vanya calm behavior when visitors come. Here's a youtube clip of him learning how to handle actual people (before the MM, I would keep him on the leash and have him sit when he greeted people, while I shoved treats into his mouth, since otherwise he would jump all over them in an effort to lick their faces. He adores all new people):

Vanya soon became extremely attached to his MM, and I realize it could be an excellent tool for training distractions. We live in a rural area, so it can be hard to find good distractions for him, but the MM fit the bill. So, to work on his loose leash walking, I used the MM as his distraction for working with the penalty yards technique. The MM would start beeping and dispensing, and we would walk toward it as long as he kept the leash loose. This was a wonderful way to work on his LLW. Then we worked on the gentle leader, again with the MM as his distraction. Here's a clip: 

Then we worked on proofing off-leash attention, stays, heeling, and recalls, once again with the MM as his distraction:

Then we started training Vanya to ski-jor, where he needs to pull in harness. Since I'd spent a lot of time teaching him NOT to pull, this took some effort. I used the MM as a lure in the early stages to get him to run and pull, then I started fading the lure by placing the MM out of his sight:

But our biggest challenge with Vanya is leash reactivity. We play a lot of "look at that" games from Control Unleashed to help work on this, but I'm also wondering about ways we might incorporate the MM into this. It's really hard to find something that can get his attention when a strange dog is in the vicinity--even when we're walking on a trail and a new dog is hundreds of yards away, too far for me to see or hear, Vanya will go into high alert mode (letting me know another dog is
approaching). Standard treats, even cheese, won't work to get his attention, so we have to be very very far away to play the LAT games. But since he is sooooooo in love with his MM, I'm wondering if I might have luck using it. Perhaps I'll try a setup, when we're a zillion miles away from a dog in the distance (ok, 100 yards), and see if Vanya can offer a quick glance at the dog then glance back at me for a MM beep/treat.

The MM has been a real life-saver for this hyper young pittie. We use it every day--for his regular meals, for practicing recalls and targeting, stays and distractions, and just for entertainment and exercise on rainy days.

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