27 March 2009

Gunner's visit, Part 6

Gunner's humans picked him up last Sunday. He was too distracted by his sister Diva on whom he was trying out and practicing his stud dog skills - to no avail, thank goodness - to notice his humans at first. Then it clicked. "They've come to take me home!" Of course, he wanted to jumped up on them and despite their commands "off", he didn't stay off. (I was embarrassed that my dogs were also trying to jump up on Donna and Scott too. So much for my training!)

I knew right away that Gunner doesn't really understand what 'off' means so instructed them to turn around and ignore him completely until he had 'four on the floor'. When he was not jumping up, they turned around and gave him their attention. Of course, this isn't going to cure him overnight but combined with a ton of reinforcement (treats) when he does have 'four on the floor' and social isolation as a form of 'punishment' when he jumps up, they should see him reduce his tendency to jump up. It's all about building value for a desired behaviour and lessening value for an undesirable behaviour. Donna asked if I use 'four on the floor' as a command & I answered "no". She wondered how a dog would learn without a verbal command and so I explained that reinforcement will build desired behaviours without having to use verbals if the reinforcement has value and if it's delivered at a high rate at first. Saying 'good boy' or 'yes' helps to mark the behaviour but isn't necessary if the rate of reinforcement is high enough at the beginning to give Gunner the understanding of what's expected of him.

Anyway, after he left, the house was extremely quiet. And I mean, dead quiet even with the remaining 4 of our dogs. Everyone including myself, was exhausted from Gunner's stay, but particularly Tyro and Diva with whom Gunner played or nagged constantly. It's not until we have visiting dogs that hubbie realizes and appreciates how much training I actually do with our dogs.

Before he left, I was building success with Gunner's stack for the show ring. His stack isn't perfect but given that he wouldn't even stand still for 1/10 second when he first arrived, getting some photos of him standing for several seconds was a huge improvement.

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