Boogie and FEET.

November 20, 2009 at 9:29 pm 2 comments

Today while I was practicing “eye contact” with Boogie using the clicker, I made an interesting discovery.

The purpose of this exercise was to positively-reinforce eye contact. Each time he sat and gave me eye-contact I clicked and threw down a treat. I took steps backwards, sideways etc. and he followed me around and looked at me – he was doing very well! So I kept clicking and dropping treats. HOT DOG treats mind you. His favorite.

We did this many times. Everything was going well, then…

Suddenly a hot dog treat fell about 1 inch in front of my foot. Boogie looked at it, took a step back and sat down and looked up at me. I had to call him over to my foot  (pointed my finger at the hot dog) and even so he hesitated… then he slowly came over and took the treat.

So I tried this a few more times. I purposely put the treat near my foot. Same thing. Wouldn’t pick it up. Instead he went into a Down position and just stayed there, looking at the hot dog. When I shifted the treat closer to him, he took it. And sat further away from me (still with eye-contact).

We have always known that Boogie has a thing about feet. From the first day we adopted him two years ago, he has displayed this reaction many times:  If someone LIFTS THEIR FOOT near him (not even touching him), he yelps and leaps backwards in fright. This happens at home, on the street, anywhere. With people he knows and trusts. Boogie jumps backwards and cowers. We assume that in the past, he must have been kicked. 😦

On the other hand, he is perfectly happy to burrow under the covers and rest his head on my foot or lick my feet, so it’s not like he is scared of FEET per se.

The thing that stunned me today is that he would even refuse HOT DOGS (his favorite treat!!!) when it is near my foot. Is he afraid that I would kick him?

Readers – if you have any suggestions on how I can help Boogie overcome this fear, I am all ears!

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Entry filed under: Social stuff, Training.

A typical morning walk Clicker-training Boogie: EYE CONTACT

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sarahrae  |  November 20, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    Our BT Wilbur is the same way, although we’re pretty positive it has to do with degenerative eyesight as he’s also skiddish around shadows.

    Reply
  • 2. lili  |  November 20, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    Hi Sarahrae – was Wilbur diagnosed with degenerative eyesight? Poor little guy. Well as far as I know, Boogie’s eyesight is fine. And it wasn’t like my foot was even moving…

    Reply

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