Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Day Four: Silver Starts Training

Day Four with Silver, and we're finally to a place where we can do some foundational training.

The first order of business with a new foster dog is always housebreaking (and, because we live in the middle of the city with no yard, loose-leash walking -- as a practical matter, we always end up working on those two skills in combination). I can't really do much indoor training with a dog who might pee in my kitchen at any moment, so formal training has to wait until we've got the potty situation at least marginally under control.

Fortunately, Silver crossed that threshold yesterday.

We are, as usual, following Sue Sternberg's potty training protocol. I take Silver outside regularly and walk her around for a while until she potties. Every time she potties, she gets free run of the house for 15 minutes, plus another 15 minutes for each day that passes without an accident (so 30 minutes on the second day, 45 minutes on the third day, etc.). Then she goes back into the crate until it's time to go outside again.

Currently it takes her about 20 minutes of walking around outside to get relaxed enough to potty, but she's been pretty consistent about that for the past couple of days, and probably that time will go down as she gets more comfortable with the city. There haven't been any potty accidents since her first day here, which was a super stormy and windy day and probably scared her enough that she couldn't make herself go. Other than that one unusually blustery day, we really haven't had any trouble.

I'd be lying if I said she was totally potty trained, but she's making very good progress, and I don't anticipate that her adopters will have any trouble finishing the job.

So, now that we've accomplished a minimum level of reliability, this morning I started introducing the clicker.

Here's a short video of an early session (we're eventually going to be working on establishing Sit as a default behavior, but Silver doesn't really understand that yet -- this is very much a snapshot of the learning process in its earliest stages, not the finished product):

It's too early to tell how she'll take to it, but we'll play around with shaping/capturing/luring games for however long I've got to work with this little muppet. I'm toying with the idea of starting her on agility jump drills (seems like a thing she might enjoy, and I need the practice), but Silver has a cut on one of her paw pads that's causing her to limp right now, so that may not be such a great idea at the moment.

I feel like she has a lot of promise to be a fun little starter sport dog. Again, it's too soon to be sure, but I do feel like Silver has it in her to be a firecracker, if her eventual owners decide to go that way with her.

Tuesday night, she had her first visit to the local dog park. It went pretty well. The park was mostly empty when we arrived (which was good, as it gave Pongu a chance to do a little bit of agility practice) and then suddenly filled up with a lot of new owners who really hadn't done much with their dogs (like, to the point where said dogs actually tore holes in my shirt jumping on me because they were trying to mug me for treats, and of course paid no attention to their owners' half-hearted attempts to get them off).

(I put the jumps away because, given the environment and crowding, it wasn't safe to practice those, and reverted to Rally practice instead. Pongu held his Heel perfectly throughout this level of distraction and, indeed, never broke eye contact even while unruly dogs were jumping on me and trying to hump him. I AM SO PROUD OF HIM. <3 <3 <3)

Anyway, Silver was great at the dog park, played appropriately with all the dogs she encountered -- many of whom were perfectly nice but also totally untrained -- and was quick to break away if I indicated that I might want to work with her. She followed me out of the park without being called when it was time to go, and waited patiently to be harnessed up with the rest of Dog Mob. I was very pleased with her behavior on that first visit.

She also showed a lot of interest in Pongu's agility work. Maybe I should get going on those jump drills with her after all...

No comments:

Post a Comment