Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Socialization and Discrimination

On Sunday we took Jonah to an off-leash dog park.  He was good, as in he didn't interact badly with other dogs, but mostly he couldn't have cared less that they were there at all.  All he wanted to do was play with us (and he happily tugged on a stick and chased a ball with us away from home!).  I guess that's not the worst problem we could have (we watched other people chasing endlessly after their dogs with little success when trying to take them home), but it would be nice if he could run around and get good exercise with other dogs.  When other dogs would approach him he would either be friendly but quickly disinterested, give a quiet little growl and walk away, or occasionally bark and walk away.  The growls and barks were not aggressive.  I wish he wouldn't even do that, but for now just having him  not do any behavior that worries the other owners is a good step.

After the dog park I took him to an Ultimate game that Dave was playing in.  Jonah hadn't been to ultimate in a while and he was very good.  He met another dog perfectly politely on-leash, played with a small girl who giggled a lot at him (he really wanted her juice box!), and was friendly to every other human who approached him.  Our friend who had met him a lot last year commented on how much improved he was, so that was nice to hear.  Sometimes when you're with your dog all the time you don't recognize slow changes, but someone who sees the dog more rarely sees them clearly.

Yesterday I set up a small exercise that went really well.  I just had a straight tunnel with two jumps about 5 feet away from it, as a discrimination.  The jumps ( | ) were parallel to the tunnel ( O===O ) entrances:

|                 |

At first Jonah had tunnel suck, so I had him do the jump line a few times with me on the outside of them, away from the tunnel.  Then I'd run between the obstacles and have him stay on the side I'd set him up on, whether tunnel or jumps.  Next I put him in a stay about 15 feet in front of the discrimination, went past them, and released him while telling him which option to take.  After that I worked on layering.  I started with the tunnel, sending him to that, waiting until he committed and then running on the outside of the jumps.  Then I'd wait less and be parallel with him as he drove to the tunnel.  Once he understood that I did the same with the jumps.  He was awesome!  It was fun to watch him a few times when he was headed towards the tunnel and then when I'd say "jump" I could see him change his line and go to the jumps.  The whole exercise didn't take more than 10 minutes.  It was fun, fast, running and a little bit of a challenge, making it a really successful session.

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