Daily adventures with Kane & Buster Brown

February 17, 2014

Outdoor Leash-Dog Conditioning with Kane

(Length was approximately 1 hour)

Today was a great training session. We started out with a nice, slow walk to the park area. Along the way we practiced a few “watch me’s” and “steady”. Kane seems to be getting better with pulling on the leash, but still need to work on impulse control when he is busy doing nose work. Once we got to the park area, we were lucky enough to stumble upon a few dogs! When crossing the street we were able to pass an older Basset Hound with almost no reactivity. I did prompt Kane for a “watch me”, but besides an intense stare, Kane had no other physical reactions. After passing the Basset I allowed the dogs to walk with a loose leash and do some nose work. While we were by the fence area a female Pit Bull passed by on the sidewalk area. She looked directly at Kane while I was asking him to “look at that dog” so we turned into a “find it” and he recovered quickly. Physically, medium pilo-erection, slight whale eye, and a little heavy breathing. His body was very tense afterward for about 60 seconds. Once he settled, we continued to walk until I saw a male Rottweiler around the corner. We “u-turned” and went over to the sidewalk area. I then asked Kane to “look at that dog” which he did, and eventually looked back at me after about 5 seconds. I worked him for a while from that area, moving closer and closer to the Rottie, treating and clicking while he was watching the Rottie. He did beautifully, almost no physical reaction at all. His tail was slightly raised to about a medium height. I walked him a little closer to the Rottie and once he turned in Kane’s direction he has a slight reaction, which was corrected quickly with a “find it”. I continued to work him with the Rottie, moving around and trying to allow longer eye contact with a loose leash and no prompting, but rewarding for voluntary eye contact. Once we rounded the corner, the Rottie was pretty much well ahead of us at that point, so we ended that exercise. I decided to take the boys past the dog park where there was one male Golden Doodle and a young boy playing Frisbee. Kane was pretty interested in the park, and especially since the young boy was playing fetch with the dog, so we started with a “find it” while we slowly walked by. Upon rounding the corner prior to the dog park walk by, there were two small Chihuahua dogs approaching head on. Kane looked at them, his breathing increased, but he looked at me and we were able to round the corner with no other reaction. Eventually after walking by the Golden Doodle a few times we were able to walk by with no issues and no prompting. It really was a great session!

February 20, 2014

Today was a tough session. After some crate this morning due to a dentist appointment, I wanted to take the boys out for a romp in the field. The walk over there was pretty good, despite Buster Brown being interested in every piece of trash or food on the sidewalk. When we got to the park I made the boys sit and wait before releasing them. Since they’re pretty used to the “regular area” we play in, they have been showing interest in exploring the outside perimeter. I usually allow them to do so for a moment, and then do some recall work. Buster Brown wasn’t as receptive as Kane, and I think that rubbed off on Kane a bit. After playing ball for about 5-10 minutes, Buster became interested in the perimeter of the park. Kane went to check on his friend and there was, unfortunately, a dog passing by right as he was sniffing by the fence. Kane has been highly fence reactive in the past, and it’s something we have been trying to work on with “find it’s” and, of course, recall work, and “watch me’s”. Kane did not respond to any of these cues, and continued to follow the dog allow the perimeter. I kept calm until he reached the gate, which I believe he could have fit through if he really tried. He jumped up at this gate, which was when I got frustrated and starting yelling “Kane Come!” in a not so  inviting or calm manner. After the dog crossed the street, Kane finally came over for a “find it” cue. I then reprimanded him by saying his name, and sternly saying no. I immediately put his leash on and then Buster’s and we left the park. The walk home was rough as well – a lot of dogs out because of the nice weather. And a lot of trash out because of the snow. We were able to walk on the opposite side of the street of the dog park and do some classical conditioning with passing dogs. One of the dogs that passed by was a Boston, which Kane is highly reactive to, and I was still able to keep him within his threshold (the Boston was on the same side of the street as us, we were off the sidewalk by the fire station). I was pretty proud of him for keeping calm after some pretty intense outdoor time. After turning up Tasker, there was a EBD that walked by us (the EBD didn’t even look in Kane’s direction) but it did startle Kane, and he lunged forward pretty hard and blew up his hackles and postured forward. I immediately did a u-turn and “find it” which bought me some time to let the EBD cross the street. I then positioned Kane in clear view of the EBD’s rear end and clicked and treated to prevent him from reacting/rewarded him for eye contact.

 February 25, 2014

Today after work at BarkA, I took the boys for a walk down to the Reed Street Park. Buster Brown has been doing much better with pulling on the leash using “watch me” and “steady”. With Kane today I wanted to work on mirrored body movements when we’re walking on leash. So to start, when he started pulling pretty hard, I would stop in my tracks. I would then wait for eye contact, and either “yes” and treat or click and treat, OR, even better, Kane would physically turn around and come back towards me. I would then take another step back and as he mimicked my movement, I would reward and treat, and then take a step forward, reward and treat with mimicked body movement. Kane always mimicks my backward and forward movement once I have his attention, however, when we are walking together, he has a strong tendency to pull, except if he is tired and we are on the way home. Leash reactivity today was pretty low as it was cold and there weren’t too many dogs out. We did walk by Doggie Style and Kane had a slight reaction past his threshold, but I was able to turn it around quickly with a “u-turn” and “find it”. We were then able to walk by with a under threshold reaction after the U turn. We were also able to practice “look at that dog” with a shepherd mix across the street. Kane stayed within his threshold. We also ran into our neighbor, Angelica, on the beginning portion of our walk. Once she made eye contact both the dogs starting barking and Buster Brown snarled a bit and jumped. I was able to get them in a sit and “watch me” while we spoke for about 3 minutes. I was clicking and treating while they were in their sit/watch me positions. A stranger walking by also extended her hand towards Buster Brown, he then jumped and nailed her right in the abdomen with his two front paws. It was an excited jump, but was still inappropriate. We ended the walk with some “steady’s” and “watch me’s”. Oddly, Kane was very focused on me while I had my cold right hand in my pocket. Definitely worth noting.

Thursday, March 27 2014

Outdoor Leash Reactivity with Kane and Buster Brown / Fence Conditioning

Today was a beautiful day compared to last, so I decided to take the boys for a long walk to the park and do some lead (4 foot leads) work along the fencing in the baseball field. Fence work is great because, number one, it's safe...you don't have to worry about losing grip on your leash, or worse, the other dog owner losing control of their dog (or not on a leash at all!). Since Kane is highly leash reactive, I chose this method to work him into decreasing his threshold distance with bully breeds (he is particularly reactive to boxers, bull dogs, mastiffs, etc). Once we got some energy out through our walk, I took them along the dog park fenced area and put their leads on (Kane typically isn't reactive to the dogs in the park, so this a great area to use, as many dogs enter into the dog park right here). Unfortunately there weren't too many dogs out today, but there was a female black boxer that Kane absolutely cannot be around without reacting = exciting in my world! I approached the first encounter with a "look at that dog", and prompted for a "watch me" immediately after making eye contact with the boxer. Kane's hackles rose, and he immediately began to increase his breathing rate. His body was also stiff. I created some distance to lessen these circumstances, and moved forward once he gave me voluntary eye contact. We moved around the perimeter of the field, basically repeating "look at that dog" and "watch me". We went past threshold a few times, which is fine here since we had the fence to protect us in case of a emergency situation (i.e. the boxer got loose or decided to react, also). For those of you wondering about Buster Brown, well, he does extremely well around other dogs, except for when Kane goes past threshold, he starts to mimick his behavior, but actually takes it out on Kane (kind of like, Brother, stop it already!). Once we reached the end of the fencing I had them both sit down and used the "settle" cue, slowly stroking from neck to back, and taking deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth (your dog will begin to catch on to this style of breathing, believe it or not!). Once they were both completely relaxed, we then left the field and did a little easy leash work by the dog park with "find it's" to redirect their attention away from the park,

 Take notice to Kane's hackles -- this is the area of the coat starting by the base of the neck, running along his spine, all the way to the base of his tail. He is border line within his threshold, meaning, he is just about to step past the "I'm agitated/frustrated" to full blown "frustrated/uncomfortable/fearful". Typically when dogs are fearful they blow up their hackles to make themselves more threatening, almost like a defense mechanism. Paying attention to this area can help you gauge your dog's threshold level.

Take notice to Kane's hackles -- this is the area of the coat starting by the base of the neck, running along his spine, all the way to the base of his tail. He is border line within his threshold, meaning, he is just about to step past the "I'm agitated/frustrated" to full blown "frustrated/uncomfortable/fearful". Typically when dogs are fearful they blow up their hackles to make themselves more threatening, almost like a defense mechanism. Paying attention to this area can help you gauge your dog's threshold level.

Great session, even though I was feeling a little down that I wasn't able to get Kane close to the boxer without reacting, I know eventually we will get there and it all it takes is hard work, a lot of patience, and constant positive feedback.