Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Building Calmness

Last night we to our training class, not to try, but to sit and watch. Our trainer has been very kind in allowing us to continue attending our monday evening class to simply just work on keeping Kobi calm.

The way the space is laid out there is a larger area where the classes take place, with a hallway running alongside it and on the other side is a smaller fenced in area. This smaller area is where we were last night. We started off for the first 20 minutes just sitting on Kobi's bed, playing the "look at that" game and just staying quiet. I tried to give him some massage as best I could which reminds me I want to order a book on how to use Tellington Touch to help calm Kobi.

We also worked on the premack exercises where I let Kobi wander but would reward him with cheese whenever he came to check me out and then would send him away again. After a few minutes Kobi was more focused on me than ever before. I then decided to take the opportunity to do some loose leash walking. Thanks to doing this exercise before hand he was glued to my side, moving perfectly with me even as I did twists and turns, figures and coming to random stops!

After working on that for a while we stepped things up a notch. By doing this I had to go back and increase his rate of reinforcement by pez dispensing treats to him. We left our fenced in area to walk up and down the hallway between the two pens. This forced Kobi to walk beside the dogs working inside the class but was still separated by a fence. He did very well with this but it was still very difficult for him and his focus on me was greatly reduced.

Overall I was incredibly happy with him last night. It seems like taking things back a few steps is really working. He is under threshold more often and I've noticed that his confidence is growing thanks to the "look at that" game. It's moments like this that really remind me of why I'm working so hard to try and turn a reactive dog into a calm  and confident dog.


  1. I just LOVE reading posts like this. It sounds like you are working with Kobi on many of the same things I have struggled with, and continue to work on, with Fozzie. Fozzie still has a long way to go--we need to do exactly the things you describe here, and we have been, but we are not at a place where he can be in class with other dogs and not be freaking out.

    Great work, and keep it up and keep posting about it!

  2. i really am enjoying your posts about training. desmond is reactive, and we work on a lot of the same things, albeit at a much slower pace--and we're far behind your level of progress as well. he'll be going into a group obedience class in june with the mentor trainer from my externship (part of my studies involves actually participating in a class with your dog, so the mentor can evaluate your training aptitude), so hopefully that will go well.

    1. Thank you very much! I've been dishing out posts pretty quickly but part of that is me logging the work I've been doing with Kobi and the other part is trying to catch up on the backlog of stuff in my head! In reality it's taken us months to get where we are and we really did start off on the wrong foot, I went about things in all the wrong ways and I think part of Kobi's reactivity is my doing.
      Where are you doing your trainer training? I'm still new to training all together but I really love it and think that I may want to get into professional training at some point. So far honing skills with dogs at the SPCA is helping a lot.

    2. you know, i'm starting to wonder the same thing--how much of desmond's reactivity is our own fault? i definitely did not have a clue about reactivity when we adopted him. hindsight...

      i just started the externship portion of the dog obedience trainer program at Animal Behavior College. the whole thing has been a pretty good experience so far.