Wednesday, August 18, 2010

An apple a day....

I've said it before, I've emphasized it in class - we don't get to choose the things that are reinforcing to our dogs. Just because YOU think something is wonderful, fantastic and tasty, that's no guarantee that your dog will find it even remotely pleasing. We have to listen to our dogs - they'll tell us.

So Teller and I are re-working his teeter. My goal is to rebuild his confidence on the obstacle regardless of variables (surfaces, weight, etc). To that end, we've been doing three teeter sessions a day this week. I've dragged my teeter all over my front and back yards - on the concrete walkway, on the grass, tarp under the teeter, covered by a tarp, weighted by a brick, covered by a towel, sprinkled with leaves, etc. I'm pretty sure my neighbors think that I've completely lost my mind!

All of this is going pretty well. The first few times I changed things I was able to reproduce the confidence issues. Teller bailed a few times and froze a couple of times - but he got over it. And hit the teeter the next time confidently. The idea is that the teeter is what it is, teeters might be different, but trust me not to put you on something that is going to hurt you. Lots and lots of patience right now and a measure of creativity! After this morning's teeter session I picked a particularly delicious looking apple off my apple tree (still seems early for APPLES!!!) and offered one to Teller. When we got back in the house I cut up his apple and divvied up the pieces between Teller and Murphy. I don't think I realized that they liked apples - particularly these apples which are pretty tart.

Anyhow, back to the subject at hand...I was throwing one of Teller's woollies (as I call them) from A Cheerful Pet, as reinforcement for bounding over the teeter. Bang, "get it"! After the third "get it!" he launched into the air and grabbed an apple off the tree.. You want an apple Teller-Woo? So I put the ringzee away and traded cheese for the apple and the next half a dozen reps were for "the apple". Let's see, fun (for me) toy? Or retrieves and teeters for apples? Woo apparently chooses the apple. Message received, I'll start picking more apples I think we can store them safely in the basement for treats all winter long Woo.

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