Friday, February 27, 2009

Will he Stay or Will he Go

Ah….moments of clarity – aren’t they grand?

Bug has been waiting at doors since he came to me in May with a door-bolting problem. He has gotten quite good about waiting in general.

Recently, we have been experiencing a bit of a start-line “huh? Stay? Wait? What do you want?,” which on the surface seemed nonsensical to me given the waiting game we play constantly.

I have been thinking about this A LOT. And practicing Stays in locations other than doorways.

I have decided that I have not given Mister Bug enough of “the responsibility.” My realization came during “waits” going INSIDE the house. I have to manage them versus leaving the house – which requires no management.

Then I realized….Bug hates his collar. We have a special cue that is ALWAYS reinforced with praise and a cookie for putting the collar on (Collar Up) and taking the collar off (Collar Down).

The first thing I do when we enter my mudroom (after our previously managed wait) is say “collar down” and treat for not being a spaz when I remove the collar. No wonder his “wait” going into the house isn’t the best – he’s eager to get in there, “collar down” and be treated for being such a good boy.

So, I changed the rules. Granted some of these rules should have been in effect since the beginning, but better late than never.

The biggest change I have made is I prolong our entrance, “wait,” and reward the Bug for a good “wait” with a small treat before releasing him. I do need to be careful. Sometime Bug doesn’t believe me when I say “Okay” (with eye contact of course) and I unintentionally use the bowling ball arm swing. I do not want that to become part of his release cue – or do I? I suppose it is harder to mistake a bowling ball arm swing than a verbal. Things to think about.

I am already seeing a big improvement. My boys love it when I make things a little less murky. We’ll see if it pays off in agility class.

Here is a short list of foundation behaviors I would REALLY like to pay more attention to and spiff up with the Bug in the next month, month-and-a-half:

Loose Leash Walking

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