Saturday, November 27, 2010

Barking sooooo much fun to teach and has come in handy!

I chose a situation where a trigger would be heard in the distance (not seen but heard). One where I knew it would peak and then cease, then there would be enough time for us to forget about noise altogether, do our own thing, then silence until the next trigger happened. For dogs with impulse control issues...mine...I always have to be careful to ensure they have enough downtime right after a trigger. So they can truly reset themselves before learning can take place again. It takes their body longer to get back to relaxing and not concerning themselves about the busy, noisy world. That's what I find anyways, and if I pay attention to it, it speeds up their learning curve.

For me working in my backyard at first was ideal. It was an area where I could semi manage.
1-loaded myself up with George's MOST favourite outside rewards (steak, zucchini, cheese), and toy air Kong ball
2-positioned myself to hang out beside him
3-waited for a trigger to present itself
4-once George started his machine gun barking at the trigger (kids screaming, dogs barking), I started shoveling food into his mouth (CC & D) When he stopped barking, we played ball a few repetitions then I went back into boring mode and ignored him doing my own thing.
5-after a few repetitions of triggers presenting themselves, George stopped machine gun barking and slowed his barks down so I could time getting to him after the first bark
6-I then added a predictor, interrupter, a bridge... a verbal signal "thanks man" to delay doling out the treats so eventually, when George barked once, I said "thanks man". He now when I say it, he looks to me and I can call him to me and figure out a reward that he'd appreciate, or we carry on our merry way. It's a round about way of teaching "quiet". They way I set things up, is just a little different.
7-I didn't want to use the word "yes" as I didn't want him to become hyper alert to sounds to get to the reward. Normally when I use the word "yes", as one would a clicker, it's when we're learning a new cue. I didn't want George to think a bark was a cue. For George, putting bark on cue would be a disaster :) It worked for me!

*Bonus was it helped his reactivity with other dogs and being ambushed on trails. He totally relaxed once he realized he could use his voice to communicate information to me. Bonus was there is NO LONGER the anxiety related to his barking. Even if he becomes aroused and barks more than once at the neighbor's dog who runs around on our lawn, it's easy to say "thanks man" and he'll stop. The more rewarding you make it, and pair it with calming signals in the way to reply, the easier it is for them to chill out.

*I'm so glad I took the time to work on rewarding one bark. Learning what the differnt tones/ inflections in his vocalizations I can tell; when he wants to go pee outside, when he wants to come in, if he's frustrated, who's outside and how close are they, and I LOVE the fact he lets me know on trails if he spots someone before I do. It's interesting to note that he doesn't flag all people/dogs, just some of them. I've had some creepy people experiences on trails, so knowing in advance, gives me the opportunity to plan what how I'd like to handle the situation.

*NO anxiety towards the people/ dogs we walk by on trails now as long as they're respectful of George's body language. He's happy to have caught their attention in advance to let them know we're over here, and then more than happy to just continue on our merry way.


Cynthia said...

Interesting post! I have a question: how do you keep it from becoming a behavior chain? Dottie has a trick in which she barks out the window at nothing, and then runs to me and sits and wags her tail and licks her lips. I'm pretty sure she wouldn't have barked at all if she didn't think she would get anything out of it. Suggestions?

Daizy, George, Taiki n Keegan said...

I have another cue "noisy" where there's no treats involved but I acknowlege when I catch the chain early and end up interrupting it.

With chains you need to watch for the behaviour leading up to the one you want to extinquish. Find out if you can interrupt it earlier well before they start getting ramped up in the chain.

I can post about it, let me know. I ran into that with Daizy. That's why I didn't teach