We’ve had a lot of stuff going on around here lately – having our house for sale, Sheba’s surgery, and then of course the holidays. I’ve lost my focus on Luke’s training, and Luke has been difficult in some ways lately.
I wonder if those two things are related. I was actually not going to write a post for this month’s hop, but then I decided it was a good way to help myself review where we’re at. We were working on having him turn lights on and off, but ran into difficulties there. I just couldn’t get Luke to hit the actual switch, and he was scratching the walls, which is not good with our house for sale. At the time a blog friend (Heart Like a Dog)put up a post on the same subject and shared a video that gave me an idea of how to re-approach. That required getting my hubby to put a light switch on a board so we could practice that way, but that hasn’t happened yet.
We were also working on “spin” and “up”, and both of those have gone quite well. Luke will either balance with his front paws on things, or if it’s something big and low enough, jump all the way up. He simply has a blast with “spin” – he’s so enthusiastic that he’s often jumping as he’s spinning! I frequently have him spin before giving him a treat or a toy. I was also trying to get him to take an object and hold it, but we just weren’t making progress there either.
I know that it’s time to regroup. It’s time for me to get my act together, put my worries and busy-ness aside for a bit and spend more time working with him. I’m going to try with a different object – a basket with a handle – which might be easier to get him to hold on to. The problem with “hold” is that he wants to drop things immediately to get that treat. But we had that same issue when he learned to pick up his toys, so I know we can overcome it.
On to Luke’s other difficulties: he has been barking far more in the car than he used to. Now he pretty much barks at any person or vehicle that gets too close to our car (I have to admit though that it’s kind of funny when he barks at someone tailgating us). I have some ideas to work on this issue (more on one of them tomorrow).
I decided, after getting advice from more than one person, that we needed to get Luke a crate, as a safe place for him to go when people come to our house. I want to use it as a tool to get him more used to strangers. We had been keeping him outside where he could see people but not interact, but with winter coming (it’s not really here in NH yet!) that won’t be practical. Also, if we sell our house I want him to have a place to go where he will feel safe as he gets used to a new house, and when we’re moving.
Luke was crate trained as a puppy, and he loved his crate. But when he outgrew it, we stopped using it. That was a mistake – and why do we have to always learn everything the hard way? We got a new larger crate and set it up downstairs. I did anticipate that he would have an adjustment period with it, but I did not expect what did happen. I planned to just let the crate sit there for several days before even trying to get him into it. I put a couple of toys in there, just so I would know if he had gone in on his own or not.
I went upstairs and next thing I know I hear crash, bang, and Luke comes running upstairs with his tail between his legs. I don’t know what he did, but what I do know is that he was then petrified of the crate. Sigh. We have since moved it upstairs (we used it for Sheba after her surgery – and surprisingly timid Sheba got used to it easily with just a few treats put inside). Again, it’s just sitting there and he will at least go near it.
Back to square one. At least I feel like getting the clicker out and starting some shaping might work. That’s our next project.
Our other issue is with trimming his nails. I had gotten him to the point, using the peanut butter plate, that I could at least trim a few nails at a time. Then all of the sudden he wouldn’t let me do any, and he would jump down off the bench, even leaving all that peanut butter on the plate behind! I do not know what happened there, all I know is we’re back to square one with that too. Which means paw handling with lots of treats.
I feel like almost every step we’ve taken forward has gone backwards lately. Would anyone blame me if I just sat down and cried? I might let myself have a good cry, but I still have faith in Luke and as long as we’ve stepped backwards we’re just going to go back to some things he knows and is good at – nose work games, picking up his toys, closing doors. I hope to build his confidence back up, and hopefully mine as well.
The theme for this month’s Positive Pet Training Hop is “giving back”. What I can say on that subject is that Luke gives back to me every day, with his love and his antics that make me smile; that is what keeps me going when we face these difficulties.
We are joining the Positive Pet Reinforcement hop this week. It begins on the first Monday of every month and runs all week long. The hop is hosted by Cascadian Nomads, Tenacious Little Terrier, and Rubicon Days. Please visit them as well as other blogs through the links below for more positive pet training tips.