Nemo's toenails are ridiculously long. Scary long. Rip you wide open long. I've not Dremeled them in a long, long time. So today, we got started back on nail trims. I used super good wet puppy food for the reinforcer and it went smoothly. I worked on three or four nails today – only a total of about 8 minutes or so. Short and sweet, that's how we do training around here
Tango's nails are pretty long, too, but I haven't accustomed him to the Dremel yet. So we went way back and just worked on getting him comfortable just having his feet handled. He's a lot less go-with-the-flow than Nemie, so our progress will be slower, but steady nonetheless. Same yummy wet puppy food as the reinforcer. It's amazing what a high-value reinforcer will do for training! Lots of succes when the reinforcer is magnificent!
Lily puts on her best what-about-me pout if I don't work with her, so I had her doing some simple, remedial work. She just loves to train, period. I could ask her to take out the trash and she'd relish the opportunity to work.
Talos is learning a LOT of new things. One of the most important things he's learning is self control. He's going to be a huge dog – manners and self control are going to be of paramount importance. He's got to learn that good things come to those who wait, that he doesn't need to charge forward or barge in to get something good; that waiting is what brings those things to him.
To help him learn this, I started teaching him eye contact a while ago. If he looks at me, I click and deliver a goody. He got that simply looking at me was a pretty good thing. Nice. Once he was pretty good at that, I kept the reinforcer (the goodie) in sight. At first, he tried to bust in and just take it. It's easy enough to pull the goodie behind my back and make it inaccessible to him. He tried only a few times to muscle me out of the goodie, then he just sat. Click! Awesome job, buddy.
Once his default response to seeing the treat was to sit, I held out for eye contact. It's not good enough that he doesn't go for it, I need him to look at me first. It took a few seconds for him to look at me, and I resisted calling his name or otherwise "helping" him out. The instant his eyes met mine, CLICK! And he got the goodie delivered to him. Excellent work.
It's fun to watch all the dogs learn.
Finally, it's Slumber Party Copper! She's here for the week while my parents are in Vegas, living it up. She's quite the handful (there will be a blog post about her shortly). She's a neat little Rottie my parents rescued from the shelter about 10 months ago. Absolutely no training whatsoever. My parents have chosen to ignore the fact that their daughter is a professional dog trainer, and repeatedly tell Copper "No!," complain that she won't come when called (I ask "Have you taught her what "come" means?"), and call her stubborn and hard headed. She's a bundle of energy, but she's not stubborn or hard headed, she's just never been taught how to do anything.
So today, she got her first clicker lesson. She's never heard a click before in her life. She has no idea that her actions could be so beneficial (i.e. that her actions could cause me to click and deliver her a goodie). My mom has been trying to teach Copper to shake for a few months. Nothing doing, says Copper. Again, the label of hard headed is thrown around. Ha. Hard headed my foot.
In less than 5 minutes, I had Copper offering me her paw. I was even able to add the cue "paw." She's on a roll! More training tomorrow for all the dogs, Copper included.
A side benefit to training: it works their brains. Every dog is fast asleep!