What do cheese, a tin can and a chain have in common? (Quilting Rush knows the answer). Dog training!
Yesterday I had a very interesting and fun day with Choco and a dog trainer! Unfortunately I was so busy training and trying to absorb the information that I forgot to take pictures (probably couldn't anyway because my hands were busy with the cheese etc.) I think Choco had a good time too though she was probably mentally tired out.
We had arranged to have the trainer come to our house and check out Choco's situation. Choco has a barking "problem" that we'd like to cure her of. One piece of advice that I got was that we need to give Choco more "privacy" so she doesn't feel she has to bark at every person, bicycle, bird etc that crosses her line of vision. I'll have to convince Tetsu of that necessity. He's already put so much time and effort into this dog's comfort that he's not going to appreciate being told he needs to build a higher fence or a larger kennel with a roof and four walls.
Then the trainer and I took Choco for our normal walk. I got lots of advice on how to control Choco on and off commands, exchanged a chain collar for a shorter one, and got a demonstration on how to keep her attention with cheese treats. I understand the principal of dog training. Praise the dog for her concentration, for her effort rather than bribe her or scold her. But I was tired out trying to remember when to say "No", when to praise, timing the treats just right etc. It was really helpful for me to see the trainer work Choco and I could watch how strong the jerk is, the soft voice that the trainer used and the authority projected.
Back at home we let Choco in the house so that the trainer could see how she begs and races around the house and knocks over things etc. Got a little advice for that situation. And the biggest hurdle was figuring out how to have Choco in her cage in the house while I have English kids coming in and out. We are going into deep winter now and with English kids here I haven't been able to let Choco into the house until nearly 9:00 at night. She sits and shivers or barks and whines so I've really wanted to be able to bring her in earlier. The problem is that Choco hates children and goes into a ferocious mode that is impossible to stop! This is a potentially dangerous situation. Yesterday when the English kids first started arriving, the trainer gave commands and when Choco lost it the tin can (with a chain inside) was thrown against the cage to startle her. Just the startle stopped her barking and she was rewarded with cheese. The amazing thing is that even when the other children came, Choco stayed controlled. I had to tell the trainer that this wasn't the normal Choco. She is usually attacking the cage and I'm afraid she'll break out! Not yesterday. Even after the trainer went home and later when the kids were leaving, Choco was suspicious but never made a sound. Of course she got a cheese reward for her good behavior! There is hope for her yet!
This morning explaining yesterday's training session to Tetsu and trying out all the techniques I had learned wasn't as easy alone as with the trainer beside me coaching, but Choco did better than usual!
Maybe the biggest reward for me (and for Choco) was to have the trainer confirm that she really is a good dog and very bright, just scared. And another pat on the back for me was that the trainer kept telling me that with Choco's abused background, she has progressed wonderfully even without professional help so we have been doing something right!
Dogs and people all grow with love, praise and consistency!