Pictures of dogs exhibiting self-control while covered with or surrounded by cookies, dog biscuits, or hot dogs are popular ways people Fame their dogs. You can see plenty of them on the Dog Faming FaceBook page. And here is Paisley doing a beautiful job in her entry for the Your Pit Bull and You Calendar Contest. (Go vote for some of those charmers!) Paisley is one of my current favorites, particularly since she doesn’t look stressed with the exercise. Don’t I see a tail in mid-wag? She knows exactly what to do, and also knows that she will be nicely compensated for her efforts!
At my house we’ve been working on a different kind of Zen lately, and although maybe it isn’t as photogenic, it’s a real challenge too.
I’ve mentioned before that I train using Sue Ailsby’s Training Levels. There is a step in Lazy Leash that incorporates Zen that I have been practicing with all of my dogs for several months. For my dogs, moving around while performing Zen is a real challenge.
Many training protocols use a treat on the ground as a distraction while teaching leash manners. It certainly has to be worked up to, since just keeping the leash loose at all takes all of the dog’s concentration at first.
Sue is so good at splitting out steps, and I love how she does the Zen/Lazy Leash combination. Her steps involving the treat include:
- Handler and dog stand with a treat directly in front of the dog, with the dog on leash. Handler takes one step away in any direction and returns. Practice duration and the person moving in different directions.
- Handler and dog walk toward the treat on the floor and turn away before they get there.
- Handler and dog walk past the treat on the floor.
The first step was no problem for any of my pups. Putting the leash on didn’t change the picture much from regular old “food on the floor” Zen. They were all OK with the second step, too. But oh man, the third. Clara and Zani are convinced the treat is going to jump out and grab them! I don’t have any trouble with them pulling towards the treat. However, both of them will sometimes tighten the leash when trying to get away from it!
I have mentioned before that many of us teach Zen at the beginning by reinforcing the dog for backing away from the “Zenned” item. So it can be a new concept for the dog that they it’s OK to be close to the treat–they just can’t eat it. I have some pretty cute footage of Clara trying desperately to keep her distance from a treat in my post Attack of the Zen Field. We have worked on it quite a bit since then and she has improved, but is still distrustful of that scary old treat.
I’ve been using this Step in the Levels as an opportunity to teach my dogs that they can actually go near the treat–as long as they don’t eat it (and in this case also maintain a loose leash).
Here is a short video of the results of that training. Summer is the pro from all the Rally practice we’ve done with treats and toys on the floor. Zani and Clara still have to work through some “cognitive dissonance,” as I teach them that it’s OK to go close to the treat. In short, the Zen is great, but if the dog runs behind me to get away from the treat, the loose leash doesn’t stay that way. But I’m super pleased with everybody’s progress.
Dog Faming: Zen on the Move
Other Zen Vids with Bragging Rights
Great treats popping up in unexpected places!
Zen Generalization: Hole in the Fence
Who says that training with positive reinforcement doesn’t hold up in real life? Get a load of this post!
Copyright 2013 Eileen Anderson