Monday, September 9, 2013

Obedience Training

Here is Maddie and I working on obedience on a rainy morning. Other than the occasional dumbbell retrieve, we are trying to narrow our focus to just the Novice exercises.
Maddie is still a long way from competing in obedience. Our heeling still needs a lot of work and I do not have any reinforcement that she would just kill for. I probably struggle the most with her food motivation. It ebbs and flows. For example, she can be very eager for homemade pot roast one day and then spit it out the next. Right now it is ebbing more than it is flowing.

At agility trials or other social outings, I use the Premack Principle a lot which is using highly probable behaviors to reinforce less probable behaviors.  For example, Maddie loves to socialize with people and dogs (highly probable behavior), but heeling, fronts, and finishes are neither good or bad (less probable behavior).  So I bring her into such a situation and block her access to what she wants to do, but if she engages and starts asking for me to give her things to do... then she is rewarded with the high probable behavior. It works really well in some situations.

She is definitely making me earn everything she gives me, but I am learning a lot and curious to see how it all turns out.

And thank you to everyone that sponsored Stephen on his bike ride for Road Trip Home.  We raised almost $2,900 and the entire event raised over $13,000!  Very exciting!  We are working on thank you notes and receipts.  They will be in the mail soon.  I am pretty sure that Stephen was the only cyclist with sponsors from the other side of the world. Amazing!

As you know, we fostered a lab for a few weeks and then he was transported to Northeast Animal Shelter, a private, no-kill shelter in Massachusetts.  He was then adopted a few days later to a family with a Dad, stay-at-home Mom, 11 year old child, and 2 cats.  We hope he is doing great there.

And here is our newest foster.
She is a very rare Brissel Cattlehoulamation Sparrier.... or at least that is what we have determined from all of the guesses.  I think she is about 5 years old and weighs 30 pounds. She will be transporting to the Animal Welfare Society, a private, no-kill shelter in Maine at the end of next week.  She is a busy little dog. The terrier in her definitely dominates, but we are working to get some of the calmer breeds buried inside of her to come out.  All in all, she will be a good companion for someone who wants a cuddle bug and likes to walk around the neighborhood.