Dave and I both have treat pouches so we can both work on rewarding together. In the videos you will see Dave rewarding Tim a lot. It seems like with all that rewarding the dogs would gain weight, so I should say that I cut back on their morning meal when I know we are going for a long walk and will be working on positive reinforcement. And the other thing we do is make sure we are only giving a very small tid bit when we are working like this. And we always have extra goodies for a "jack-pot"!
Liza our Min-Pin is rarely in pictures of us walking with the dogs. Not because we didn't bring her with us but because she likes to scout out in front. This has always made mom and dad a bit nervous. She has a wonderful recall, but she also has gotten into Grouse ground nests just off trail and has also killed a tiny baby bird or two which makes us feel awful because we feel we and our dogs are visitors of the nature we find on the trail we don't want our dogs to be pillagers. In the spring much of the time we keep Liza on a retractable leash to prevent baby bird killing while still allowing her some autonomy to sniff and feel free. Since working with Tim on off leash walking we haven't had to do that so much anymore. It seems Liza, who is extremely food motivated, is not scouting much these days, she is staying with the rest of the pack because she really doesn't want to miss any treats that might come her way! Why didn't we think of this a long time ago??? Don't our dogs always teach us something?
When we first got on the trail Tim was very excited and so he was getting a bit too far out of our comfort zone for him. Oh and notice no more long line, we feel he doesn't need that anymore he is really doing well on his check in and his recall.
|Dave making sure the gang knows there are going to be treats involved today. Letting everyone know we have something yummy will help keep them focused on us...|
|Everyone is getting excited to show how they can stay together with mom and dad...|
|Tim offers a kiss before we take off again...|
Tim back to the behavior we are asking for, now that he remembers he will be getting his paycheck in the form of yummy treats!
We will continue to practice this as long as it takes for Tim's brain to set this behavior and he won't be able to do it any other way. It doesn't matter how long it takes, the only thing that matters is that it is fun for Tim and that he trusts that we are being consistent with him. A win-win is what we are going for.
Here you can see how Liza is hanging out with Tim, she even turns to check in with him. Dave made sure she got her treat even though he missed it the first time. Then Skip and Jenny decided it was time to hit mom up for a treat. They already have the behavior to stay close to me but what the heck? Reinforcing a behavior we want in our dogs is always a great thing to do! So don't be stingy, reinforce your dogs whenever they are doing something you like, it will make them want to do that thing more :)
|Skip walks by my side or a little behind me 99% of the time. He, and Birdie and Jenny, have always done this, but he still gets a treat now and then just for being such a good little boy. Stay tuned for part 2!|