Monday, July 18, 2011

Wallaby in General

Just a progress report, but I wanted to keep my *Sunshine and Unicorns* post simply about how much I love Mr. B.

He is eating a lot more beef heart, almost daily, and gaining weight whilst requiring less food and less exercise. He is down to about a pound a day, from 1.4-1.8 on average. And he only goes on a short, 45-minute-ish walk about 5 times a week. Days that he doesn't walk, we play in the yard or I take him to run with his pooch friends. We do training on almost every walk we go on. That is, I take a clicker and my treat pouch and click him for things like being by me [but not looking at me for treats], or walking calmly with the leash loose, or stopping at corners, etc etc.

He is also needing a lot less bone in his diet. Which is great, just wonderful, really.

Yes. [Wallaby training #3]

I have the greatest dog ever. He is so smart and wonderful, and sometimes he can be frustrating. But not today. I love this boy.

Wallaby used to be very good at being a crazy nutjob. He's like so many rescue dogs out there, who just have not had proper training, exercise, attention, or all three. Some days he's lucky he's so cute and snuggly. But not today. Today I saw a glimpse of what lies ahead for Wallaby and I.

I saw a dog who was faithfully by my side, but not because I forced that idea into his little dog brain. And not just because I had yummy treats [beef heart and venison, aka dinner]. We went for a walk and he didn't yank me along. He didn't obsess over every.little. thing. He didn't spend the majority of walk in a constant cycle of getting to the end of the leash [16ft], sniiiiiiiiiffffffffing something or fixating on something, and then, because I was still in motion, feeling a tug on the leash and rocketing past me out to the end of the leash again, without so much as a sniff in my direction.

I now have a dog who can walk on a leash politely. I have a dog who can be in my house and not be bouncing off the walls,or getting into things he shouldn't [still working on some impulse control when it comes to low coffee tables...], or whining every time I go somewhere without him. I have a dog who does not jump up when he meets people, instead he sits or in the case of kids, he downs, and thus gets FAR more attention because "omg this dog did not assault my face as a greeting!" and the behavior is reinforced.

And not once, never have I had to yell at, pinch, choke, yank, kick, shock, or otherwise abuse my dog in order to get this out of him. All I had to do was trust him a little, and show him what I did want from him.

I love my dog.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wallaby's Training Journal #2

Since I last wrote I have done very few training sessions with Wallaby, but he has been improving nonetheless.

The past couple of weeks Wallaby has been loose in the house regularly. Prior to this he was always on a leash or tether in the house, for various reasons. The biggest one being my guinea pigs. He is all about them. Wants to eat them, and I'm just not really okay with that. As a result I moved them into a small but secure cage, and had Wallaby on a tether in the house.
The past few days, the pigs have been in a 3x3-grid pen in the cellar with the bunnies, where it's a nice cool 70F, and they have lots more room to run and play.

He was also VERY hyper in the house, and knew no boundaries. For him, inside and outside were the same thing. He would run, jump, hop up on tables and even people as he pleased. I taught him to replace jumping up with "sit" early on, so this was discouraging to see. My mother also runs an in-home daycare, and three of her kids are deathly scared of dogs, so I didn't want Wallaby getting loose/into the daycare and scaring the daylights out of them with his presence. Despite our best efforts though, this happened on two occasions.

When Wallaby first came to us, the kids' reaction to him was a bit off-putting. I was cautious around the kids when I had him, even a bit jumpy. Then I realized something: Wallaby is [i]amazing[/i] with kids. He would never hurt a child, as he has demonstrated many times [one of the babies likes to play with his face and tail] and my uptight manner probably wasn't helping the kids relax around him. Since I've changed my 'tude things have been a lot better between the kids and Mr. B.

Since March, Wallaby has calmed down so much it's hard for some people to believe. He used to be one of the most hyper dogs in the rescue. When he is in the house he is almost always sprawled out or curled up somewhere, usually on the floor or a bed. My mother doesn't want Wallaby on the sofa. He used to be rebellious and would sneak up onto the sofa when no one was looking. I don't care whether or not he's on the sofa, so I never did anything about it. Now he doesn't park himself on the sofa unless someone invites him up there.

So yeah. Wallaby has overcome one of his biggest obstacles with almost no help from me. I couldn't be more proud of my puppy.

I use only positive training methods with Wallaby. I never punish him for doing the "wrong" thing, I don't believe that you have to "forcefully dominate" your dog, in fact I think all that dominating, pack leader-ing stuff is a load of B.S.
Wallaby looks for me to guidance on his own accord, not because I forced him to.

So the things I want to work on him with now is his recall, which I have hardly worked on at all, and also building calmness and focusing on me in the presence of other dogs and small prey animals. The latter is going to be a loooong process, but my goal is to be able to take him on off-leash hikes at some point in the [hopefully] near future, so I need to start working on both of these things.
I'm also going to work on sit/stay and down/stay with him, since he's having trouble with the basic concept of just "stay". He does sit/stay without the verbal cue sometimes on walks, so I think this will be easier for him.