Tuesday, November 26, 2013

On taming the whirling dervish...

Training greyhounds is different to training other breeds of dog. I was reading Ian Dunbar and he said that a Lab pup could perhaps do 20 commands in the hope of getting one single treat. I tried that with Mouse. I got three. I tried it with Barbie and got 10.

Obviously it improves with training but with the hounds there is a fair bit of 'what's in it for me' involved. The other thing about greyhounds is that sometimes they don't really want 'life rewards' like being able to sniff a tree bad enough to be bothered to sit for the privilege.

At any kind of greyhound gathering I break out Barbie's small repertoire of party tricks. It starts with 'sit' and ends with 4 x spins in a row. She won't do roll over or 'bang' in public usually. I would love it if there were other hounds who joined us and we could have a 'trick' off. The trick I am working on with Barbie at the moment is something I call 'peekaboo'. I want her to pop through my legs from behind and sit right there. At the moment she wants to pop through and then spin around. I think 'peekaboo' has more practical applications (like posing for photos) than the pop through and spin. She doesn't really like to sit there though. I will convince her eventually.

I have been taking Mouse to obedience classes at Billy's Daycare for Dogs, mainly to help her with her confidence. There is an adorable little blue staffy girl in the class and a red cloud Kelpie (cross?). They are both very young dogs, and they are really lovely. Mouse likes them both though she did have to tell the staffy off for standing on her tail last weekend.

Mouse is more confident and relaxed on walks now, and her ears spend a lot less time in the 'alert' position. We now avoid the worst fence-barkers in the neighbourhood as they freak her out, but she is improving. At training we ended up face to face with a rather bolshy old Lab who had escaped from his yard across the road. He had his back up and was doing a very upright tail wag. Mouse met him with assertive body language. I was impressed.

I am looking for more opportunities to work with and get together with small groups of dogs for Mouse's leash manners. The training course is over in a week so we shall be looking for something soon. I can get greyhounds together but really other types of dogs will be the best for Mouse to improve her social skills.  

She seems to have a low threshold for frustration, so when she is on lead and she meets other dogs she can turn into a barking, air snapping, jumping tornado. She grabbed her own leash, and she's grabbed Bender's as well. We think that it's more of a frustrated reactivity rather than a fear based one. 

We need to work on self-discipline. 

The hardest thing for Mouse to do at the moment is 'stay'. Barbie and Bender both have good stays so I can practice with all three dogs together. I got a sit/stay from her and walked a circle around her a few nights ago. She swivelled her head around like she was in the Exorcist, but she kept her little butt on the ground.  

That's a bit of progress at least! 

We went on a road trip with the three dogs to a little town 700km South East of Perth called Esperance on the weekend.... so that post will come soon. 

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