Obedience Experiment- 2.5 Months

Vito's obedience experiment has been going on for about 2.5 months now.  Due to lack of daylight and the weather I don't have nearly as many sessions in as I would like.  As stated before, in house training with full choice is simply not an option in our tiny space.  Vito would never even know a session was available as there's no way to set up a "training area."  But over the holidays I had off work and got in quite a few sessions over the two weeks in my yard.  I bundled up!

Sadly it's been kinda demotivating.  Vito has full choice to do what he wants and he knows that very well by now.  And I admit it's a blow to the ego when once the snow hit it wasn't even Me vs Grass but Me vs sniff the snow and air scent?  

Of course we have had some really great sessions.  It's been interesting that his speed and drive still haven't decreased at all on the sessions he chooses to work.  Precision is off, but really not by much considering I've pretty much "rewarded" everything he does with gushing praise and butt scratches with only a few full resets.  The only thing Vito is still very reluctant to do is his down signal.  Vito has always hated lying down when working and it's always been a training challenge to keep the distance downs with speed and style vs the awful lazy butt first and slower slide.  Without the rewards Vito just isn't on board.  Actually that's not fully true, as he has surprised me by starting to do well with the verbal at a distance or at minimum being sassy and barking at me when I give the signal vs sitting or staring at me.  

Most of the time Vito carries his dumbbell around.  I will usually do a bit of light tugging on it with him but don't do a ton of throws.  Tugging is fairly low value for Vito and he was never a dog to carry around a toy in his mouth before.  Throwing would be very high value for Vito and I'm sure I could create a dog really obsessive about his dumbbell if that was my goal.  Right now I'm happy to see that the dumbbell has increased value and is somewhat a substitute toy, but I'm not interested in taking that a step further to really solidifying that as the main reward.  We will see if my view on that changes in the future for him!

What I find most interesting about the experiment is our 100% rate of working at the obedience club.  Now we haven't done very many sessions there compared to the training we have done at home, but every time he has been very quick to engage- between immediately to up to 3min.  And there are way more interesting smells to sniff and activity to watch from other classes when there.  

I wish I had done more non dinner time training in our yard before starting the experiment as I wonder if habit is part of the reason.  Training obedience in the yard was always associated with meal time and other times we just hung out in the yard.  But the club was either chill in your crate while I teach, or come out and train.  Huge history of associating the building with work and not a free for all type of environment.

Here is Vito's last session at the club.  I actually forgot his dumbbell so I borrowed one, just a bit too large for him.  He chose to work almost instantly although there were also slightly less distractions as normal classes were off that week for that time.  Some people entered the ring at the 5min mark which was hard for Vito.  I was happy with his choice to mostly keep engagement with me and ended the session a minute later

Kristen  – ( January 15, 2016 at 10:52 PM )  

Thanks so much for sharing about this - even though it may not have your desired results (yet!).

I love the updates.

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