Wednesday, April 6, 2011

One week in...

Today marks the completion of the first week of the Recall e-course I'm participating in, and already I'm noticing some nice improvements, and general frustration outside has diminished greatly.

Some highlights of general improvement:
  • Yesterday in agility class I had Cohen sitting in her crate with the door open while I went across the room to listen to my instructor. Cohen sat there calmly without breaking the barrier while another dog was played with right in front of her and I was over 40 feet away.
  • One of the dogs in last night's class was reactive and generally a handful. She was barking, chasing, and got away from her handler once to chase after another dog on the course. All the while Cohen sat quietly in her crate looking to me for reinforcement.
  • Cohen recalled away from a half-eaten banana in the park.
  • Cohen recalled away from a game of chase after it had died down a bit when I was over 100ft away.
  • Cohen stopped her stalking of a nearby squirrel with a "leave it" from me.
On top of all that, there's just a general sense of ease and enthusiasm when we're out together. I've been making more effort to play with her and work the games into our walks. I've been mindful of where Cohen's reinforcement is coming from and I think I'm getting better at managing it.

I walk Cohen off-leash constantly (as long as we're away from roads). I think I'm probably not following the rules in this situation. I think the idea is for her to be leashed so as not to allow for any opportunities to inappropriately reinforce herself while we're out, but at this point I don't think that that's a realistic expectation. Instead I've been working on being more preemptive and rewarding like crazy when Cohen makes a good decision without any cue from me.

I look forward to where we'll be when the course reaches its end.


  1. Jess,

    Great to read your perspective on the first week.

    c bickley at idirect dot com

  2. Very impressive. We are spinning our wheels and I'm of a mind to start from the beginning and not worry about keeping up and doing a half-assed job. Viggo is OK until there's a distraction so we have to go back and reinforce the foundations.