Training Progress?

It's been a month since I've vowed to restart training with the Toller.  It's helped that at home he's been eating every meal and sometimes he's even excited about it ever since I stopped his Xanax 1.5 months ago.  I'm still not doing a lot of training at home and haven't started any new tricks.  Mainly we've been doing a little bit of fronts with the dumbbell, still working on closer fronts and making the dumbbell a toy.  And also having him do his shake and paw most days making sure he actually makes contact with my hand.  Because Vito's paw sensitivity has increased so much this last year I'm starting with him making contact with me and then will go to me reaching for and holding his paws.

At the obedience club is where we've been making the most progress.  We're still not in a regular class but are focusing on playing with me in the ring for about 10min twice a week.  My main goal for the month was figuring out how to play with him without toys since I've seemed to have lost the ability to play the games he used to love.  Mainly I've been encouraging a lot of jumping up on me in order to get a treat.  He seems to like it as I back up and I hope that I can get to the point where jumping up for petting as the main reward is seen as pretty cool too.  Vito also loves butt scratches and while me standing and reaching over to give him one is still a bit of pressure that causes him to back up, if I crouch down and clap my hands he often comes in for a nice happy scratch.  While Vito knows a ton of tricks he doesn't seem to have any that pop out as super rewarding like Lance's rollover.  I was hoping I could get his hand touch to that level but I'm not sure.

I'm not sure if it's due to my effort in reasserting playing with me over the toy or the stopping of his Xanax, but Vito has been getting more of his drive back too!  When I do use a toy in obedience he is back to his old levels of intensity and even in agility we haven't had any "tired" days in awhile.  Goodbye flat Vito!?!!

I know we still have a long ways to go for Vito to be confident outside of a practice session.  At the obedience trial two weeks ago Vito was even worse on Sunday when we thankfully weren't entered than
he was on Saturday where he had his rally entry.  Vito would tug with me a little bit and would work for food, but as soon as he wasn't actively being engaged he had to look around at everything.  It was harder to get his true focus even though I usually had his attention.  Then at a presentation I used Vito as a demo as he once again wanted to look at everyone watching him and just went through the motions of the exercises.  I found that really interesting since we were even in the same ring that we practice in every week.

Car update
Vito's relative calmness in the car was short lived.  Less than a week after the post Vito's anxiety spiked and now we are at heavy panting and trembling, again.

Cinnamon  – ( November 5, 2011 at 10:01 PM )  

I must admit that I am just like Vito when I am in an 'obedience' ring in trials. When I am working with Mum just before entering a ring (as well as when I am working with her in a ring for practice), I am happy and focused. But, as soon as I put my paw in a ring in a trial, I feel very stressed, lose all interest, and feel like wandering off. My Mum thinks that I behave like that because of her own stress and nervousness, but I am not sure if that is the case.

Mango  – ( November 6, 2011 at 8:26 AM )  

Sorry to hear the car anxiety is back. Sending good thoughts.

Mango Momma

Muttsandaklutz  – ( November 6, 2011 at 5:49 PM )  

Well, bummer about the car but I'm glad about the progress he's showing in other areas. I use the jumping-up-on-me thing with Lucy a lot and we love it, now with or without a treat as part of the picture.

Honey the Great Dane  – ( November 8, 2011 at 6:29 PM )  

yay! So pleased to hear that you seem to be making some progress with Vito. You have incredible patience – it must seem like 2 steps forwards, one step back all the time but I do think it sounds like things are slowly moving in the right direction. Does Vito enjoy chasing you? That is one of Honey's most rewarding games with me, without toys. I get her to do a "Wait" and then walk a few steps away from her and then do the "ready, set, GO!" and start running away – she just goes absolutely mad for this game. It doesn't even have to be a big distance (like if you are in a ring) – just the whole process of the 'ready, set, go' gets her quivering with anticipation and launching herself after me. I always stop running as soon as she is next to me. Obviously, when we play this on the beach or out at the park, she can get into a full gallop because I make sure that I have enough of a head start – but this still works really well when we are in a confined space because it just gets her really focused on me and full of excitement and anticipation. It's one of the few things that is guaranteed to get a bit of excitement and energy out of Honey – ha ha! We always play chase with her chasing me, never meet chasing her. So I don't know if VVito enjoys running and chasing but if he does, this might be a really cool game – even if he only has the take a few steps forwards towards you to "catch" you, but just the whole ritual is really exciting and engaging. Anyway, just a suggestion that works for us! :-)

Sorry to hear about the regression with the car – hope things might get better again.

Hsin-Yi

Honey the Great Dane  – ( November 8, 2011 at 6:31 PM )  

PS. You could always have him jump up on you when he "captures you"/reaches you – that would be the climax of the game ha ha! I always avoided teaching Honey to jump up on me – for obvious reasons! Ha ha! :-) But with a smaller dog like Vito, that could work well.

Laura, Lance, and Vito  – ( November 8, 2011 at 8:34 PM )  

Thanks for the advice Hsin-Yi! I have been backing up when I'm rewarding an exercise and that has helped a lot in getting him to come in to me and jump up. Smaller is easier :) I think running away is a great idea that I'll start doing in practice. A little hard to do in the ring but I do sometimes run with Lance to the next starting point and he loves it!

achieve1dream  – ( November 23, 2011 at 9:08 AM )  

I'm glad he's regaining some of his previous focus and excitement. I hope you can find a way to help his anxiety without the meds that wipe him out so bad. My dogs are awful in the car so I have no idea what to do for that. Storm pants heavily and shivers and Jackal whines. The weird thing is they only do it in town. On the interstate they lay down and go to sleep. I think that means it isn't the car they are worried about, it's the excitement of getting wherever we are going. I do think Jackal did a lot better when he was crated in the car, but he outgrew his crate and I haven't had the money to buy a new one to test my theory. I hope you can figure things out.

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