Monday, March 30, 2009

More Progress!

For a couple months now I have been working with Barely to get her to walk across sewer grates and similar things in streets and on sidewalks. She always avoided them and even luring her with treats was unsuccessful. I kept working on it and got her to the point (through shaping for it) that she would put her front to paws on it but then she would hop the rest of the way over it. Well the other day all of my hard work paid off. As we walked around campus, I started steering her towards the grates on the sidewalks. She initially surprised me when she walked calmly over one that she has been avoiding since she was a pup and then surprised me even more when she began seeking out other grates for the click and treat reward. If she saw a grate in the direction we were walking she would purposefully walk over it instead of going around it as usual. I was so excited by this new development that I even took her to one we had first started training on. I hadn't been back to that one since, but she had always been particularly wary of it and would put one paw on the edge at best. This time when we approached it she walked right onto it without any cue from me and with complete confidence!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

All Grown Up

Barely never ceases to amaze me. Yesterday in English class she was phenomenal. She lied quietly under my desk during class. So quietly, in fact, that a student 3 seats away from us was so shocked to see a dog emerge from under the desk at the end of class he exclaimed, "Holy shit! Where'd that dog come from?!?!" I took that as a big compliment that Barely was so good he didn't even know she was there. Many other students and my professor commented on how good she was. Go Bare! :)

Then last night Barely and I went with a friend to Champs bar & grill for dinner and the Flyers game. Barely was an angel considering the (literally) hordes of people there and immense noise. She lied patiently under our table while we ate and then under the bar stool when we moved to watch the game. She did get tripped over twice because she refused to lie down out of the way, but then I was able to convince her it would be better for her to tuck herself under the stool. Towards the end of the game she gave up watching me intently for the next treat and started to fall asleep. (see picture above)

Just now I took her for a walk down the block and she surprised me once again. I decided to not use her Easy Walk to see how she did and was dumbfounded. She was amazing! She kept the leash slack about 90% of the time, the other 10% being when she pulled me over to the grass to do her potty dance or smelled something particularly interesting. But even with those few indiscretions, she was awesome. Not since she was a puppy have I been able to have a nice relaxing walk with her with only a collar and leash! I guess all that LLW work paid off!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Barely Goes Back to Class

Since Barely has been doing so well with not whining during extended down/stays in public, I decided to start easing her back into going to class with me. The class I chose for her today was my Microbiology lecture. As you might imagine, a Micro lecture at Penn State is quite large, so I chose a seat in the front row where Barely couldn't become easily distracted by all the students. She immediately settled into a down stay while I sat down and got myself settled. A few minutes later my professor walked in and suddenly noticed her there. Worried that he might object, I started explaining that I was training her and asked if he minded but was cut off mid-sentence by him saying "Oh cool! Don't you leave class early now!" Sure enough at the end of class he came over before we could leave and said hi to Barely. I was so glad he was so cool and supportive about it. :)

Anyway, during class Barely was really good. I only heard her whine a single time, very softly but when I ignored it and then treated her for being quiet a little later, it never happened again. She did stand up a few times next me, but she was quiet about it and didn't browse around on the floor so I would wait until she went back into a down on her own and treat her. It was a pretty long class (an hour and 15 minutes) to take her to after her few months of hiatus, but overall I think she did really well. I'm hoping to take her to English class tomorrow. Wish us luck! :)

Small Steps

I think Barely and I have finally reached the turning point in her training. By this I mean that she has now done two lengthy down/stays for me in populated places without whining once! If you've read my Whining thread you know that this has been a major issue with Barely. Well, last weekend Barely and I accompanied Gretel & Linzey to Barnes & Noble where we sat in the Starbucks cafe area talking and reading magazines for a while (and by a while I mean over an hour). Barely snuggled up to Gretel and fell asleep for most of the time. She remained in a down/stay just about the entire time. (I'd also like to mention aka brag that I told her to stay and left to use the bathroom and she never moved once the entire time I was gone!)

Then tonight at Cold Stone, Barely surprised me again by lying nicely next to our little table while I had ice cream with a friend. Our table had the unfortunate position of being right next to the door where a long line formed. However, Barely was an angel and didn't pay attention to anyone unless they talked to directly to her in which case she looked at them and wagged her tail but still didn't move. It was easy enough to get her attention back after this too. A girl even stepped over Barely and she didn't budge or even look at the girl! I know this all doesn't mean we're completely past the problem yet, but I'm happy with these small successes.

Barely was also wonderful as we walked around campus today enjoying the weather. She gave me nice attention and ignored the hordes of students walking around. When we entered buildings, she hit the door open buttons dead-on on the first try just about every time. This is also a major success for Barely because it used to take her a few tries to actually hit the button right so the door would open.

Overall, I'm just very pleased with how Barely is coming along!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Harness Shmarness

Barely's recently been showing some harness sensitivity. She generally walks away when I hold it up for her to "get dressed," a command she once loved. This all become evident to the trainers at SSD when they did her 12-month eval and they said to discontinue use of it until a later date. Well, not that I don't think they know what they're talking about because they obviously do, but I decided to instead work intensely with Barely everyday and try to get her back to where she once was.

Tonight I first started with her favorite treat in the world: cheese. She was very willing to put her head in the harness for that! We kept repeating the "get dressed" cue over and over. Then I left the harness on her and practiced having her listen to commands with it (which is also part of the problem). She did well at this so I decided to take a break for a little while.

When I started again about an hour later, she still was showing some reluctance to put her head through the harness so I decided to change tactics. It's obvious Barely will willing put her head through it if she knows she's getting a treat, but she should be able to do it anytime- treat or no treat. So, when she tentatively stuck her nose through I praised her with a very excited "Good girl!!"and lots of pets then asked for her to get dressed again. She again stuck her nose in a little but wasn't sure so I repeated my praise. The 3rd time she stuck her head through and I erupted with complete excitement and plenty of "good girls" and "you're so smart!" She quickly got excited and loved the attention. Her tail started wagging faster and faster (something it doesn't do when I first put her harness on) and she rubbed up against me for more pets. We repeated this exercise several more times and each time I asked her to "get dressed" she would exuberantly shove her head through it and get visibly happy when I praised and pet her. I think this is a step in the right direction and I want to keep working on it every day.