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  • Results 1 to 6 of 6
    1. #1
      Senior Dog
      TuMicks's Avatar
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      Zen Training (for lack of a better term)

      For those unfamiliar with Ram Jet Rocket Dog's saga... she's a high roller, very intense, highly field bred labrador who's 3.5 yrs old. She's doing great in her field training, but she is so intense about retrieving birds that she falls apart in the second half of a Hunt Test after looking brilliant in the first.

      SO... how do you calm a hyped up lab. She knows, and can perform her obedience (HEEL SIT etc.) very well... until she becomes so wound up she loses her capacity to stay focused and controlled. (We have to work as a team to succeed, and eventually, under stress, she goes "full automatic" so to speak.)

      We went to the doggy behaviorist this morning. It was really interesting. I did not feed RD prior to our appointment and the poor girl was frantic. (BTW we were working entirely off lead.) We put a small handful of kibble in her bowl and walked away from it about 10 yards, then told her to sit. She began whining and squeeking and snorting and front-feet dancing. The behaviorist was watching for RD to see when she became focused on the food, while giving up the anxiety behaviors. In that moment she signaled me to walk toward the bowl. Any squeek or surge or heavy panting caused us to stop. Basically we waited RD out. We did this for quite a while going back further and further. We added a "holding blind" (made of towels).

      It was pretty cool. Eventually we were able to walk under control, with the dog focused on the bowl but calm, all the way to within inches of the food and then release her to eat it.

      NOW... this is not necessarily the way it's done in the Ob ring, where the dog is supposed to be looking at the handler. But in the field, they have to look OUTward where the birds and action are going to be. So, (and this was really interesting) RD started making slight body contact with my leg. (Perfectly OK in field sports.) She wanted to know where I was, but didn't want to take her eyes off her goal. And that will work just fine.

      In the behaviorist's method, the movement is the reward. The food is a secondary reinforcement.

      (I am probably not putting it properly in learning theory terms... so I hope I'm not messing up the terminology.)

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      Annette47 (05-16-2017)

    3. #2
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      We use Zen bowl all the time in field and obedience. It's super useful for all sorts of things. We start easier and teach the general premise to the dog knows how to win so he doesn't get into the anxiety zone though, then we make it harder gradually.

    4. #3
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      Yeah, the approach seems really promising.

      It was so interesting to talk to the behaviorist. She is involved in the Galgo-Podenco International Rescue group.

      400 Bad Request

      (The link looks weird, but does seem to work.)

      While we were working a person brought in a Pod I'd seen months ago cringing in her crate with her face to the wall. What a cutie, really had a personality.

      Susan (the behaviorist) says she has used the Zen thing with very disturbed, anxious dogs and sometimes finds herself sitting at a site (a parking lot for instance) for over an hour waiting for the moment when she can give the dog whatever they have determined would be the reward.

      I can't believe the difference she made in that Pod's life.

    5. #4
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      -feeding-set-jpg

      She sits off to the side on the concrete while I put a handful of kibble on the bucket. We heel to the blind, pause, then come out of the blind and heel right to the bucket (within inches) and then put my hand down, slow count, then release her. Right now, she continues to pant heavily. She has to settle before we move forward. It's getting better.

      I'll be happy when she can do it without stress. But there is so much further to go. We'll add a duck to distract her. Hunt Test noise (there's a CD called Gunz Up that will give you all the realistic noise.) and so on and so on.

      We won't be in the field for another week. Then we'll see how capable she is at controlling her anxiety.

    6. #5
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      Sweet. I love new ways of looking at things. Vic

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      TuMicks (05-16-2017)

    8. #6
      Senior Dog
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      Going great at dinner time. Just fab. I got the sound track and just play it in the background when the dogs are laying around. (Played it in the backyard and it got all the neighborhood dogs going, I tell ya.) So hopefully we're desensitizing her a bit with that.

      For mother's day, I asked hubby for the dogtra remote release unit that will eventually go on a zinger-winger. The purpose of that is so that I can make it quack. I've also used my duck call.

      (Get this picture... right? Skinny grey-haired lady puts a hunting/holding blind in her back yard with wildlife noises, blowing a duck call while heeling a dog about in the backyard.) Do you realize how weird all of this sounds and looks to any of my neighbors who might see what's going on in my back yard?

      Oh, the things we do.

      Bottom line is her body tone/posture is "up" i.e., alert and focused, but she is staying aware and sometimes even in slight physical contact with me. We're heeling all over the backyard while she is starved and food is sitting right there on her bucket.

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