Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Reactive Dogs Class #4

Whew...it has been quite a long time since I last posted! We have had a lot going on. I started and finished my last undergraduate semester and graduated on December 18. We had a great Christmas. In January I started a new job as a behavior therapist for kids with developmental disabilities (primarily Autism) and I am loving it. Lily turned 1 two weeks ago (and is still as much a puppy as ever).

Mia has improved leaps and bounds in agility she is constantly raising the bar with what I can expect from her. She now tackles the A-Frame like she's been doing it for years with no help whatsoever. Some days it's hard to keep her off of it!

Most notably, we finally got to start a reactive dogs class with the local vet behaviorist. It is held at the same facility we have agility classes. It has really helped me in the past to document her training so I can look back at it so I will be posting a lot more often now (hopefully!).

Mia has been doing very well. Each class she surprises me with how well she does. Yesterday was our fourth class. The other dogs in the class are not anywhere near as reactive as Mia is. I think there has only been one bark in the entire class that was not Mia or on command. We worked on three exercises: Look at that, on-off games, and parallel walking.

Mia is not at the point where she can play "Look at that" with the other dogs yet so we worked on desensitizing her to the sounds of jingling collars and other dogs barking (on command) when it was our turn.

Mia also wasn't comfortable enough to really get excited/aroused enough to truly work on the on-off exercise.

She, again, wasn't ready to do the parallel walking exercise so instead we worked on her looking at the other dogs (one at a time) from across the room. We rewarded anything that was appropriate (prolonged eye contact, sits, sniffing the ground, vacuuming the ground, shaking, looking at the other dog, looking back at me/the vet). One thing that is highly reinforcing to Mia is me being near her so we toyed with using that as a reinforcer. If she started to make noise or bark I would say "oops" (not as a correction but more as a marker word) and walk a few feet away. When she did something appropriate I would come back. It seemed to help. By the end of our turn she was (most of the time) looking calmly at a dog about 15 feet away and then back at me without a sound!

While the other dogs were doing the parallel walking exercise they came very close to the barrier that Mia and I were behind. I fed her continually when they walked close to us (she couldn't see them but could hear them) and she didn't make a peep (this is still quite an accomplishment for her!).

Looking forward to next week!

Mia on Easter (2010)

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