As I mentioned last week, Andi started a training class called Bully Manners 101 which focuses on bully-breed specific behaviors. It's actually awesome- I can't believe how much progress Andi has made in just ONE WEEK! It's insane! I wish I would have done this years ago!
I want to share some resources for things that have been working miracles for us. This whole class is positive reinforcement and we use clickers (I recognize the clickers from Cesar Milan!). The Human Society has a helpful article describing positive reinforcement here.
So first we had to "load the clicker" i.e. get the dogs to associate the sound of the click with treats. It is suuuuper simple. So simple I thought I was missing something when we did it as "homework". This guy explains how/why the clicker works and shows how to "load it". Literally all I did was click and hand Andi a treat 15 times in a row so she knows "click" means "treat".
Our other piece of homework was Touch Training. The idea behind this is that when we are walking or doing anything really, when I tell her to touch she touches her nose to my hand. This is awesome for when we are walking and we see a cat or dog or child (all things terrifying to Andi). I will be able to say "touch!" and she'll touch my hand instead of focusing on the stressor.
The above video also does a good job explaining another thing we're working on, which is stopping negative behaviors without yelling or negativity. Instead of yelling or flipping out, just don't give the dog what they want (no attention!!). So if they're jumping, turn away from them. This is a big one that I couldn't believe how fast Andi responded.
Which leads into the next thing we're working on- "sit to say please". Andi is dominating this!
The trainer also pointed out that Andi isn't necessarily psycho or autistic (we actually thought maybe it was possible for Andi to have some kind of dog aspbergers- is that a thing?), the way she acts is a reaction to her being insanely stressed out/anxious. Poor baby's anxiety landed us in the quarantine:
So, biggest takeaways from week 1 of training:
- Positive reinforcement rocks for Andi
- We have to find what motivated Andi - she doesn't care about treats at all which made me think training her was impossible. The trainer had us try cheese and meat which both worked. Other people in our class use hotdogs, meatballs, string cheese pieces, or just dog food. We all have to keep the "treats" in a fanny pack-esque pouch around our waists. So, yes, I wear a fanny pack full of meat and cheese
- Consistency is key. Humans are naturally 1000000 times less consistent than dogs need them to be. This is an adjustment.
- It's not the dog, it's me.
So tell me - do you take your dog to training? Have you tried Positive Reinforcement? Have you used a clicker? Any treat recommendations for dogs who don't like treats?