|Barked: Tue Mar 5, '13 11:09pm PST |
|If none of the dogs are reactive, what about switching around the dogs and the owners? You could start with something easy, like name conditioning or voice conditioning, where the owners are just talking and feeding treats, to build some relationship. I think it could be very educational for the impatient ones to see the patient ones getting (probably) quicker results and (certainly) better retention. Have you freeshaped a behavior in front of the class? I think watching the instructor in general is very worthwhile. I had read a lot of dog books and done a lot of training on my own before we took a class, but I learned a lot from watching our teacher. One thing that jumped out at me was that the teacher unconsciously always used a 4-part command: attention-getting noise (ex. cluck or kissy noise), name call, voice command, and finally hand signal. That combination seems to be almost 100% effective in moderately distracting environments.
Freeshaping with Smokey was a steep learning curve for me. At first, he would get frustrated or overwhelmed really quickly and walk away or sit and stare at me. I had to get a quieter clicker (iClick), sit instead of standing, make my body language open and relaxed, start using a light, happy "try again" as my no reward marker, and start using a lot of calming signals. I find that yawning or licking my lips is very effective in relaxing him and getting him back on track when when he's missed several prompts in a row. Do you think any of that would help your nervous pups?
Have you worked on fetch at all? Some things to try: running away while calling the dog once he has the ball (sometimes works, sometimes dog drops the ball or ignores), trading a treat for the ball, and/or backchaining the retrieve, possibly starting with a lower value object than a ball, so that it's interesting only for the bounty on its head and the dog isn't tempted to play keepaway. There's a good birddog video floating around; I'll dig it up if you like. Not to overstate things, but a really solid fetch can change a dog's life, because a lot of owners are too lazy to exercise the dog if it means they have to exercise.
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