Thursday, March 1, 2018

☸️ Bodhi Goodboy nears the end of his first training class

White 8 month-old male Labrador RetrieverWe’ve been working on a host of behaviors between weekly training classes held at Hungry Like the Woof, in Warrenton. My pal has mastered much of what I’ve thrown at him. He’s still a wild thing when the leash goes on outdoors, though, but we think a solution is as far away as today’s UPS delivery.

Bodhi has a solid sit, down, sit-from-down, and stay. He recalls quickly, and responds to his name most of the time. A stick or his pal Stella can capture his entire attention, though.

There’s been nothing more satisfying than taking our turn demonstrating Bodhi’s stay-and-come, dropping his leash and walking away only to see him still sitting there, watching me intently when I turn around twenty feet away. He’s done pretty well tuning out the other dogs, though the puppy in him still wants to visit the others on occasion.

I’ve mentioned that this is my first time using the clicker method of dog training. Initially I was skeptical, but we worked through getting the two of us coordinated between me, the leash, dog, clicker, and treats. It was a juggling act until I figured out what went where and how to keep my attention on everything at once.

What I’ve come to understand about the clicker v. a more traditional “correction” method is that the former employs positive reinforcement with treats while the latter, negative reinforcement using a choker collar. While all three of our older dogs did just fine using the traditional method, click/treating Bodhi sure makes him look happier to play along. It fills his belly with tiny training treats, too.

One bit of advice I’ll pass along is to do the outdoor heeling work on a quiet road. Much of my time is spent head-down watching for Bodhi to make eye contact as we walk along, and click/rewarding him for it. Hearing a car coming happens much more readily than seeing it, so fewer cars is better.

Bodhi has gotten so familiar with sitting when a car approaches that he’ll often notice before I do and slow his pace, sitting as soon as I slow. He’s a smart boy.

The one behavior where Bodhi falls down involves the one purpose I had for this class: pulling at the leash. We’ve had mixed success keeping him from grabbing at the leash—he’s bitten almost all the way through a three-week old one-half inch thick model—but a good-sized stick in his mouth seems to satisfy his urge to chomp something at the outset of a walk. Resolving his pulling behavior has eluded us, though.

Our instructor, Sally, recommended a particular style of harness that employs a D-ring on the dog’s chest in addition to one on his back. By attaching the leash up front, pulling behavior will cause him to turn around and face me, at which point he’s stopped. It should quickly dawn on him that pulling gets him nowhere.

I should have jumped on buying one of these harnesses weeks ago. Better late than never. I’ll take Bodhi for his first walk with it and a new leash Saturday.

Next week will be our final meeting of the family dog class. I intend to sign us up for whatever comes next, maybe a CGC (Canine Good Citizen) class, but upcoming travel and an age requirement for some of the classes may put that on hold for a while. In the mean time we’ll keep working at home, on the road, and on the Warrenton Greenway. My intention is to have him in shape for walking end-to-end and back by summer.

#LabradorRetriever #Bodhi #training #goodBoy