01 January 2009

No Gold and A Serious Distraction

It's Thursday so we should be posting pictures of gold things, but Molly doesn't wear jewelry and neither of the dogs have anything that would classify as gold.

Instead I am going to talk about training and distractions. Learning to work with distractions is on of the big challenges in a service dog's work life and even the training of any regular dog. You don't always know how well your dog will handle a command in different situations.

Up to recently, Molly has done very well with distractions. She has worked succesfully in a number of unusual environments, including stores, airports, family situations, and even a rodeo. She also came well when called when around other dogs.

But she never had a little sister before. Apparently a little sister is a much bigger distraction than anythign she's ever had before. So we're going back to basics and trying to train and refresh a lot of basic behaviors.

Yesterday Molly had two training sessions while Shawnee ate. Molly needed to eat too, but wasn't very good at just eating with the little one around. So I started giving her basic commands and rewarding her with small handfuls of her kibble. It went very well and she was able to sit, down, stand, and touch reliably (an extended version of puppy push-ups) despite the little one trying to steal the food and come over and talk to her. I even managed to have her retrieve my shoe a few times. She also did some short "watch" commands--moments of sustained eye contact.

We need to do more recall training and I have an idea for where we can safely do it, but I am sick today with what is probably a sinus infection and asthma, so I am not going out in the cold to do it.

Shawnee has learned sit very well and is starting to learn down. Potty training is really progressing well since we started giving her treats and clicks for outside potties. The small problem is that sometimes she is so focused on the treat that she forgets to finish her business. But she is starting to head for the door--try to anyway--when she needs to go and also doing some whining to let us know.


Daniƫlle said...

Hi Rebecca,

Happy New Year!

I wish you Gods blessing and I hope your health will improve this year and you can enjoy your girls!

Good luck with the training. (You can do it!)

By the way, Shawnee looks so much like Molly! (Almost mother and daugther...


Raising Addie said...

Happy New Year!!!

I can see that a puppy would be the ultimate distraction for a service dog in training. But I bet they are having a lot of fun in their down time.

Have a great day!


Lexi, Qwill, Shiner and Trophy said...

I am i big believer in absolutely no treats for potty training, because i know my boys are smart enough to learn, "hey, if i hold it in and tell her i have to go out again in 5 minutes I'll get even MORE treats! Muahahaha!" lol. :)

happy new year Bex, Molly, Shawnee, and your DH from all of the Broken Butts!

Fenway said...

Just when I think Fenway's made progress with recalls.... another dog comes along and I'm reminded that dogs REALLY sometimes prefer the company of their own kind. (sigh).

Samantha ~ Holly and Zac ~ said...

Happy new year Bex to you all.

Give it time, Molly has this new exciting little playmate. I am not surprised it has affected her training some. She will adjust with time i am sure.

It is very different for me training Holly now that we have Zac. I am still trying out new ways that work for us.

It looks like she is loving having a little sister to play with. :-)