Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sniff on cue

One of the EASIEST and HELPFUL cues to capture. It TAKES THE CONFLICT out of so many situations!  And makes my guys HAPPY!  Dogs LIVE to sniff and explore! Why not make it work to your advantage.

Works wonders for dogs who need help controling their impulses like jumpy over the top meet and greeters ...KEEGAN....he was so embarrassing at first.  I nicknamed him Keegan the Kangaroo as he'd wait till he was close, then jump up, bopping people in the nose...

Here's a vid of George sniffing. These people thought he was cute, said he looked like 'Wishbone" but prefer to admire dogs from a distance..so here's a way for George to interact (because he LOVES to say hello) without annoying or frightening these people;


IT'S a great cue to pull out of your back pocket to get the dog to leave something YUCKY to us...but irresistible to them like...horse poop!  Warning this is gross but dogs love to sniff it...and eat it!


Also helpful for SOCIAL NERDS or over the top HERDING breeds...knowing what to do when they meet another dog, cat, bikers, skateboarder.... There are steps to work up to this point. ...below demonstration courtesy of Daisy.  Crazy Daisy the party girl...went through a period where she'd bark, lunge at the end of her leash at other dogs after a couple of bully experiences.  She'd had enough and just wanted to make sure other dogs knew to STAY AWAY.

The turning point for Daisy and her social awkwardness was I put sniff on cue.  I also learned a ton from Dogsmart classes for 'reactive dogs", and Dr. Karen Overall, Dr. Patricia McConnell, Leslie McDevitt et al have come out with so much research on this very topic that puts everything into perspective.  My latest favourite way of explaining the drama courtesy of the above mentioned Phd's.... is that they seek information by the only tools they have, their voice and body language (growl/bark/lunge).

Daisy's progression to understanding what TO do when meeting other dogs;

*I chose bullet proof dogs that are calm and were happy to just sit with their back to Daisy and ignore her while she sniffed from a distance.
*At first even eye contact from the other dog can make a social nerd get into the drama :)
*Eventually we'd play games parallel with eachother but again, distance ourselves so no contact could be made even if leash was fully extended and the dog pulled you off your feet until Daisy was comfortable.
*Sometimes giving the dog time to get to know the strange dog helps take the edge off the meet and greet. The more strange dogs Daisy met at a distance, the more comfortable and confident that she didn't have to be noisy to ensure the other dog respect her boundries ...ie: not being too in her face and ignoring her signals that she's overwhelmed. 
*Lastly she learned to retreat if she felt overwhelmed instead of being dramatic :P

1-At first, from a distance (subthreshold), she was rewarded for air sniffing them,
2-then walking behind them and air sniffiing,
3-then beside them and sniffing, then when she was totally comfortable,
4-we worked up to this nice sniff meet and greet....all her decision. 

She let me know when she was ready for each progression through her relaxed and happy body language, and I just made sure interactions were quick at first then added duration until she was able to make the right decisions on her own.  I just rewarded her for the polite response and calm, friendly body language, each step of the way, always, always noticing if she slightly tensed up...we backed away and created distance, teaching her...if she's uncomfortable...retreat and leave. I call it, retreat with honour...I think it's from an article I read from Dr. Ian Dunbar.  That's it.

George is a whole other blog post!

1 comment:

mb said...

I couldn't help myself ... I posted something about all the fun we had finding horse pooh today too! Thanks for the great walk 'n talk today!