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.

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