Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Noisy Girlie!

With the addition of Irie to our pack, breakfast time became a VERY noisy event at my house. Irie is a corgi, and in true corgi fashion she is a food hound and likes to bark.

The Problem:

At meal times, while I prepped meals (I feed raw and use supplements), Irie jumped on the cabinets and barked like a fool.


I want Irie to learn impulse control in all aspects of her life, so I chose not to crate her during meal time. Instead, I purchased a 3’ tether from my trainer-friend Katrin. I attached this tether to the leg of my island. Before I went to prep meals I would put Irie on the tether. A criteria for her being fed was that she sat quietly as I put the bowl down and remained in a sit until I released her with her release word, “Break.”

Evolution of the Problem:

In 2 meals Irie understood 100% that the bowl would not be placed on the ground until she stopped barking, and that she had to hold her sit until released. If she tried to break her sit without being released I removed the bowl from the floor. This is a very practical application of the “It’s Yer Choice” game.

What this solution did not address was the barking during prep. I decided I needed to end this problem before it became such a well reinforced habit it would be a “real” bear to break.

Solution Con’t:

Every time Irie barked during prep I walked away from the prep area (“away” being between 5’ and 10’), kept my back to her, and busied myself with a sip of tea or reading something quickly. As soon as the barking stopped I returned to the prep area. When she started barking again, I walked away again. I repeated this until I completed the prep and was ready to feed the dogs.

The first two meals took the longest. You really need to build a bit of cushion in your schedule to address this appropriately. The funny thing is, it did not *really* take that long, but because she was barking and I was stressed about the time (in the a.m.), it *felt* like it took forever! Since I didn’t end up late to work it couldn’t have taken that long.

I saw a noticeable improvement with Meal 3 (Day 2!).

I am now on Day 5, and just fed meal 9. I had barely any barking this morning. Irie barked a little bit at the very end when I was mixing the food up. I think the mixing sounds have already become a conditioned reinforcer, so I expect those barks will take the longest to extinguish.

Overall I am really happy with how easily I have resolved this issue, 5 days with minimal work and consistency is not bad!


Diana said...

Great problem solving!!!

Katrin said...

Great work!! I'm so glad you blogged about this as it just goes to show that a little added time, effort and forethought can make tremendous change with a dog's behavior and understanding.

Joanna said...

Man, she is SO bossy! Good work with her, though I suspect she may be thinking she's got you on mind control instead of voice control now :). I was just telling her bother's owner that these babies are utterly convinced of their own awesomeness and are SURE you just need to be convinced of it too. There needs to be a lot of "If you do this, you are even MORE awesome!" and not a lot of "Do this because I told you." Making it her choice is wonderful.

Jules said...

EXACTLY! She thinks she is brilliant for being able to figure out how to get me to continue food prep. :) It's win-win!

Ellen said...

I really appreciated you comment on my blog of the feeding issue. So far I have successfully gotten Tucker to stop going crazy for meal prep. Not as successful as yours but WAY better. Pretty hard for a 4 month old pup to sit the entire time. When I begin he is sitting, then I turn my head to fill the dish and I look over and he as popped up. He doesn't lunge at me anymore, unless I walk away because of a him jumping in place. Just more consistent practice. Right now I just want him to sit while I get the food.

You give me hope and skills to learn.

Jules said...

Yay, Ellen! I am glad you are seeing such a big improvement with Tucker. :)