Tuesday, December 21, 2010

An impromptu training session leads to a very cool breakthrough

So, as you've seen in a couple of videos, I've been working hard on "peek", a freestyle behaviour where West stands and eventually walks between my legs while focusing on me. This behaviour has a handful of uses:
1. It's proven a miraculous solution for my mom's reactive aussie mix, Gypsy. She feels safe in that position and it's a fun, easy trick. I'm hopeful that will apply to west.
2. West is/was very nervous of being around moving feet, so this was a counter conditioning exercise also.
3. It's a very very safe position for him to be in, where he cannot jump on anyone, bite anyone but me (since my body is physically between him and anything else), or make a nuissance of himself. He's also protected fairly well from strangers reaching at him (again, cause my body is right there) and it's easy for me to operate a gentle leader or to lure him past something scary.

Given all that, I was kind of disappointed when I found I was able to get him into the position and move a bit, but he wasn't taking the initiative on his own unless I made "under my legs" the only possible way for him to get to the treats. Until now..

This evening, I was sitting on the bed and he wanted pets. So I positioned my legs out so he could get between them, used a hand target to get him there and scratched him. A while later, I stood up to put my dinner in the microwave and decided to cut up some treats I have drying in there. As I was cutting, I suddenly felt this dog body on the inside of my leg! He had peeked! On his own! and in a rather awkward, not-easy spot too! Of course, he got a piece of heart for that... And did it again. and again. Progress! :)

What a smart puppy. He's really getting lots of stuff down pat. I need to work a bit more on his mat work now that I brought a mat out here. And when it's warm (this week, I hope), we'll take a trip into town and see how he does with some management and lots of treats around people.

1 comment:

  1. What an awesome breakthrough! I have found the best moments of reward come when my dog just all of a sudden offers the behaviour we have been working on all on her own, without any prompting from me. It was excellent you just "happened" to have some treats on you as well. Yay for you and West!