Boogie’s Obedience Training: Lesson 2

September 19, 2009 at 8:00 pm Leave a comment

DISCLAIMER: This blog post was written in 2009. We no longer do Obedience Training using “dominance”-based methods. We no longer use collar corrections. These methods made Boogie MORE TENSE, MORE triggered and more prone to aggressive behaviors. We switched over to reward-based methods in February 2010 and saw improvements. 

It went much BETTER than I expected! As I was saying to Boogie’s trainer Jill: It makes such a world of difference and is SO helpful when someone shows me physically what to do and what I am doing wrong. It is not the same as reading a set of notes or watching a YouTube video and trying to follow instructions.

My timing, my body language, my tone of voice, how I hold the leash etc. are all super important, and I realize now – thanks to Jill – that I have been sending out confusing signals or not doing corrections properly. Wes and I also haven’t been …um… consistent… Yeah, our Boogie has potential. He is trainable if we are.

Two things I re-learned this morning that require practice (memo to self):

  • Proper Corrections: When correcting, I need to hold the leash closer to the collar. If I correct from too far up the leash – this will hurt him, and will be ineffective. The correction has to be fast TUG and much stronger than what I have been doing.No wonder Boogie has been so ‘disobedient’. My fault, not his. Boogie responded perfectly to proper corrections! (Ok, so he did his ‘Rodan’ yelp a few times, but he gave in eventually) We were all very impressed.
  • Correct Automatic Sit: Up till now, when we walk and I stop, Boogie sits facing me. Jill showed me how to correct Boogie (without dragging him) so that he faces forward.

New Commands I learned today:

LEsson2-Looseleash
1. Heel with Loose Leash.
The idea is for Boogie to stay focused on me even when on loose leash. So that when I change directions, he has to follow me. If I walk slow, he has to walk slow next to me. If I pick up the pace, he has to pick up the pace. If he goes off on his own, quick correction/”No”, and when he refocuses on me and follows, I praise him. The challenge: I must not pull or drag him when changing directions. This is actually harder than it sounds, because it’s so much easier to get him to move by pulling him than to correct him and call him…

Lesson2-Down

2. Down (on Play). This is different from the usual “down” command that I have been doing. This “down” is to be said in a strong firm voice while Boogie is in a hyper/active state. The idea is to have him lie down anytime, anywhere, while walking, even in the middle of playing or running around. I was amazed that Boogie responded to this command today. No treats! Sure, it took a couple of corrections to get him to lie down from the “sit” position but he got it, and went with it. This  one is going to be hard… I mean, it took me THREE FULL WEEKS to even train him to lie down and that was with treats.  Jill: “If you don’t believe you can make this happen, then it won’t happen!”

Lesson2WatchMe

3. Watch Me. This is a useful command that can be used anytime, more specifically when Boogie is distracted by another dog/person. Jill says it is also useful for when he feels anxiety in an unfamiliar situation and I want to snap him out of that state and make him focus on something familiar and positive (= me). The Lesson: I make him do a Down-Stay, and say “Watch Me”. I praise him when he looks at me. If he looks away, I lightly tug the leash to divert his attention back to me. Yeah, this will take lots of practice. The Challenge: I musn’t pull the leash towards me (Or he will get up from his Stay position).  The tug on the leash isn’t and musn’t feel like a correction.

Something else I learned today… When we were walking along our street, two old ladies came around the corner, maybe 10 feet away. Jill pointed out to me that Boogie was scared of them. I was like – “What? Really? Those two ladies?” I wasn’t paying attention to Boogie’s body language and didn’t see anything strange. Jill who was walking behind us said she saw Boogs pull back slightly the moment he saw the two old ladies (who were btw,  friendly and totally non-threatening). The same thing happened again later when another stranger showed up on our street. Boogie broke the heel, and pulled off to the side.

I know my dog has social/anxiety issues with strangers (hence the biting) but I had no idea that he got scared so easily.

Jill: “You don’t know what happened to him before you rescued him.” The only thing we do know is that he was kicked in a previous home… when anyone lifts their foot near Boogie, he cowers.

Some steps to a solution:

  • Strangers meeting Boogie for the first time are not allowed to pet him. Give him space. Give him time to feel comfortable around them.
  • When people come to the door, he is not allowed to jump up and greet. This one is hard because we all think he’s so cute when he does it. The problem is that if he gets suddenly scared or anxious, he could react. He has to “Sit” and greet. Jill: If you do want him to jump up and let him know it’s ok to do so, create a word for this. Jill says “Hug!” for her own dog when she wants him to jump up.

So I have decided to do the ThankDog Bootcamp!

I think this will really help us both. It will keep me on track (like going to a gym vs motivating myself to workout alone) Boogie will also get to be in the presence of other dogs and  stay focused on ME. The Challenge: Waking up at 6am.

Boogie - completely tuckered out after 1 hour of Obedience Training.

Boogie – completely tuckered out after 1 hour of Obedience Training.

We didn’t even finish the lesson (going over the same commands, indoors) because Boogie fell asleep as soon as we got inside!

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Entry filed under: Training.

My question to the Good Dog Blog – a response! Boogie at Bootcamp!

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