We’ve had a lot of stuff going on around here lately – having our house for sale, Sheba’s surgery, and then of course the holidays. I’ve lost my focus on Luke’s training, and Luke has been difficult in some ways lately.
I wonder if those two things are related. I was actually not going to write a post for this month’s hop, but then I decided it was a good way to help myself review where we’re at. We were working on having him turn lights on and off, but ran into difficulties there. I just couldn’t get Luke to hit the actual switch, and he was scratching the walls, which is not good with our house for sale. At the time a blog friend (Heart Like a Dog)put up a post on the same subject and shared a video that gave me an idea of how to re-approach. That required getting my hubby to put a light switch on a board so we could practice that way, but that hasn’t happened yet.
We were also working on “spin” and “up”, and both of those have gone quite well. Luke will either balance with his front paws on things, or if it’s something big and low enough, jump all the way up. He simply has a blast with “spin” – he’s so enthusiastic that he’s often jumping as he’s spinning! I frequently have him spin before giving him a treat or a toy. I was also trying to get him to take an object and hold it, but we just weren’t making progress there either.
I know that it’s time to regroup. It’s time for me to get my act together, put my worries and busy-ness aside for a bit and spend more time working with him. I’m going to try with a different object – a basket with a handle – which might be easier to get him to hold on to. The problem with “hold” is that he wants to drop things immediately to get that treat. But we had that same issue when he learned to pick up his toys, so I know we can overcome it.
On to Luke’s other difficulties: he has been barking far more in the car than he used to. Now he pretty much barks at any person or vehicle that gets too close to our car (I have to admit though that it’s kind of funny when he barks at someone tailgating us). I have some ideas to work on this issue (more on one of them tomorrow).
I decided, after getting advice from more than one person, that we needed to get Luke a crate, as a safe place for him to go when people come to our house. I want to use it as a tool to get him more used to strangers. We had been keeping him outside where he could see people but not interact, but with winter coming (it’s not really here in NH yet!) that won’t be practical. Also, if we sell our house I want him to have a place to go where he will feel safe as he gets used to a new house, and when we’re moving.
Luke was crate trained as a puppy, and he loved his crate. But when he outgrew it, we stopped using it. That was a mistake – and why do we have to always learn everything the hard way? We got a new larger crate and set it up downstairs. I did anticipate that he would have an adjustment period with it, but I did not expect what did happen. I planned to just let the crate sit there for several days before even trying to get him into it. I put a couple of toys in there, just so I would know if he had gone in on his own or not.
I went upstairs and next thing I know I hear crash, bang, and Luke comes running upstairs with his tail between his legs. I don’t know what he did, but what I do know is that he was then petrified of the crate. Sigh. We have since moved it upstairs (we used it for Sheba after her surgery – and surprisingly timid Sheba got used to it easily with just a few treats put inside). Again, it’s just sitting there and he will at least go near it.
Back to square one. At least I feel like getting the clicker out and starting some shaping might work. That’s our next project.
Our other issue is with trimming his nails. I had gotten him to the point, using the peanut butter plate, that I could at least trim a few nails at a time. Then all of the sudden he wouldn’t let me do any, and he would jump down off the bench, even leaving all that peanut butter on the plate behind! I do not know what happened there, all I know is we’re back to square one with that too. Which means paw handling with lots of treats.
I feel like almost every step we’ve taken forward has gone backwards lately. Would anyone blame me if I just sat down and cried? I might let myself have a good cry, but I still have faith in Luke and as long as we’ve stepped backwards we’re just going to go back to some things he knows and is good at – nose work games, picking up his toys, closing doors. I hope to build his confidence back up, and hopefully mine as well.
The theme for this month’s Positive Pet Training Hop is “giving back”. What I can say on that subject is that Luke gives back to me every day, with his love and his antics that make me smile; that is what keeps me going when we face these difficulties.
We are joining the Positive Pet Reinforcement hop this week. It begins on the first Monday of every month and runs all week long. The hop is hosted by Cascadian Nomads, Tenacious Little Terrier, and Rubicon Days. Please visit them as well as other blogs through the links below for more positive pet training tips.
I love the photograph of him where he’s a blur!
Luke is a sensitive boy. I think he’s probably picking up on your stress. Keep having fun with him and he’ll settle down again.
I think you are right, Clowie. Now that things have been settling down with Sheba, and I’ve had a bit more time to work or just play with him, he seems to be doing better. We’re making progress with the crate, but it’s agonizingly slow! Once again, he is teaching me more patience. 🙂
Lara Elizabeth says
I definitely understand those times when progress seems to be moving in reverse. Ruby went a long time without voluntarily going in her crate, but these past few months she naps in it frequently! I’m not sure what changed, but she still doesn’t like it if I close the door, even with a yummy bone.
2 Brown Dawgs says
Keep at it. I am sure things will improve, but realize the behaviors that you do not like will never completely go away. I think the reason modern trainers get frustrated is that they are lead to believe unwanted behaviors will eventually disappear with enough treats and it usually doesn’t work that way. You can train away from them but you will probably always have to refresh his training. You may want to schedule refreshers into regular training. That is what we do. As far as the hold, remember that Luke is not a retriever so that hold for a heavier object may be elusive. I would take treats out of the equation and use praise. As retriever trainers that is what we do.
Those are great ideas, scheduling refreshers, and withholding treats when trying for hold. I had just seen something recently about using praise instead of treats, so I should have thought of that! 🙂 I can see where Luke is almost too focused on the treat, and there is no way he’s going to hold onto anything that way.
We’ll see as far as heavier objects, because Luke sure likes hauling his huge Jolly Ball around in the yard! 🙂
2 Brown Dawgs says
The trick will also be timing the praise. If he responds to praise and the goal is to have him bring you the object, you may need to save the praise for when he gets to you. I was at a seminar once and the dog was very slow to return. The handler gave more praise and the dog just slowed down more. The pro trainer suggested saving the praise until the dog got to the handler and then go nuts with it. The dog returned lickity split! But every dog is different and you will need to find the right timing for Luke.
Sand Spring Chesapeakes says
Hang in there, you guys will get back in the groove.
M. K. Clinton says
I am so bad at working with Bentley and Pierre. It is my New Year’s resolution to spend at least ten minutes a day with each one individually to practice. Bentley works reluctantly but Pierre loves to perform.
It’s easier to focus more on the ones that respond better too. I get frustrated working with the girls, and since Luke is normally more responsive I spend more time with him. I hope once the holidays are out of the way, that will be one less thing to deal with and I can focus a little better.
I was just sitting down to write about crates! I’m sorry Luke’s not as happy about the crate as the girls are. Bar’s been regressing with her loose leash walking–which I never really had to train much before, so it seems like so much work to do it now, but we’re trying. Maybe there’s something in the air making our normally good dogs batty! I can’t wait to hear what you’ve come up with for car barking. Barley is usually really good but when we get close to places she loves (parks, agility class), she loses it and it is starting to make me batty, but I’ve got no ideas how to work on that!
We can’t even blame “cabin fever” because the weather has been so nice! LOL
Our beagle Cricket is like Barley in that she goes nuts when we get to places. I also have no idea how to calm her down!
Barbara Rivers says
Sorry things have been stressful lately. Maybe Luke is picking up on your stress and acting stressed in return. I’ve noticed that behavior in my pups whenever things have been hectic in our home.
I am sure that is at least a part of it. I try hard to hide my worries and stress from them, but it’s not easy!
Lauren Miller says
I’ve fallen into training ruts before! I think it happens to everyone! You just do what you can when you can do it!
I wonder what happened with Luke and the crate, he must of scared himself! I think shaping is a great idea and just taking it slow, he’ll get it! 🙂 ~Hugs~
We’ll keep at it and we’ll keep you posted, thank you!
The Island Cats says
Luke, you need to get back on track, buddy!
Bev Green says
Janet i say have a good blubber..i would..not only busy as you are with houses and illnesses but Luke has sure picked up on it..much like children if they sense things awry they use the old ‘time to act up’ routine..having said this you are far better than i! i cannot do Docs nails at all..it’s a trip to the vet ti get them done..and as for misbehaving .well..both the boys here have their pecadillos..and they also have their great moments..i say prioritise..do what HAS to be done..and let a few of the lesser things slide 🙂 Loves Bev xx
Thank you, Bev, I think that is great advice. I’ve always found things easier to deal with if I just prioritize. What is most important to do today….and then go from there.
I was together with a friend yesterday who recently lost her dog to cancer. We had a good cry together and it was very therapeutic for both of us. 🙂 xxoo
Bev Green says
Therapeutic indeed..sometimes it is all you can do to release that stress..huge hugs xxxx Bev
DZ Dogs says
OH my goodness you’re exactly where I am right now… 🙁
I feel your pain. I accidently took on to much at once with taking in 2 new fosters at the same time (their owner passed away), I should have only taken one which I knew but my bleeding heart wouldn’t let me.
Having 4 dogs, two of which who are brand new has been a struggle. I have been trying to do training with all of them and i’m missing things. Recently Ziva started to be leash reactive again, I really thought we had it beat. But since we haven’t been walking as much it’s come back. I’ve been making sure they all get exercise by running and playing but they need more structured walking.
Nails – same issue. I could use a dremel on Ziva and Dante with lots of peanutbutter and yummy cheese treats but now I can’t..we’re back to struggling and it being a big deal so I have to go back to square one which is really frusterating. ON top of dealing with 2 newbies….
I’m also supposed to be training Dante for his upcoming flyball competition, that’s not happening as regularly as it needs to.
And I tried to come up with a solution to find a new foster for the boys, and you guessed it nothing is available except for myself and our local pound.
I recently at a friends suggestion started picking a dog a day to work on, that seems to be helping a little bit.
I’m sorry that you are struggling too, though I have to say it feels good to know that I am not alone!
Up until less than 2 years ago, we had four dogs as well. Once we were into it, we were committed, but I have learned that 4 is too many for me. That is exactly why our two girls are not that well trained. I still work with them some, but they aren’t as quick to pick up on things as Luke is, so I do less with them.
Maybe if we didn’t have to work, we’d have time to “do it all” and it would be easier. But we can’t keep the dogs well taken care of without those jobs to pay for food, toys, and vet bills!
It does help to just break it down some, and I think one dog per day is a good idea….I hope it keeps on helping you some. Hang in there!
Pet Regale says
I wish that training was a linear process. I suffer from being a bit inconsistent with it too. But even when I am consistent things don’t just happen for me in the order I want them to, but we usually find the finish line eventually. I’m sure you will too.
Thank you for the encouragement! We will not give up, and I know we will get there too…it just might not be as quickly as I’d like. 🙂
We humans have set backs like that too. Learning is never a straight line–for anyone.
I’m sorry you’ve been experiencing frustrations. Actually selling a house is intensely stressful. I can’t believe you haven’t gone totally cuckoo.
Be kind to yourself. Things will come back around with Luke soon. And it’s great that he loves to spin. What a great trick!
I had a collapsible exercise pen that was really useful when I was fostering. Even dogs who found crates too confining tolerated the x-pen easily. Perhaps such a thing might be a useful tool for Luke when you have company. Especially since it would give him room to get away if need be. It can also be used as a sturdy but transparent door to block off one room of the house.
Thank you, I will definitely keep the x-pen in mind. And give myself a break. 🙂
Is the crate the same kind as his puppy crate? Bailie had a Vari Kennel and still loves it. I have one of the metal ones like your new one, and she really dislikes it. She always wants to be in the other one. That would be my thought. As for the car barking stuff, when we were little and would stand or bark in the car, she stepped on the brakes suddenly, just enough to knock us off balance. After a couple times, we stopped the behavior. No one gets hurt, it worked with us wearing our seat belts and we have been fine since. Those are my thoughts for today.
That crate is the same kind he had as a puppy, but if we can’t progress with this one I have thought that we may need to try another type. I think it’s the noise that this one made that spooked him, so the other type might be easier.
The brakes thing might be worth a try too. If Luke is in the back with that barrier we just got, that would probably be safe to try with him.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts…any and all advice is always appreciated!
Callie, Shadow, and Ducky's Mom says
OMG! Maybe Ducky and Luke are related somewhere down the line! Geez, there are times when Ducky frustrates me to the point of tears, too! (As in she’s on probation right now.)
I feel for you! I know how difficult – or should I say impossible? – it can be to focus on one dog’s training/behavior issues when you’re trying to take care of another one who has health issues. And I know you know I’m right here any time you want to talk/cry/laugh.
Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady says
Aw jeez, I feel for you. We have been through similar issues with koda. He is so much like a human child in the fact that he likes to take a few steps backwards. When that happened a few times, I would pretty much just take him back to the basics, and re-start what we had worked on. Although your situation is very different as you are dealing with Sheba’s health issues and everything. I couldn’t imagine! Just remember, you know my email address, and where to find me. I am always here if you need to chat!
ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
Thank you, Jenna, I really, really appreciate that!
Yes, we all know that feeling of one step forward, two steps back! Thanks for being so honest about your struggles, because it reminds the rest of us that this is just life sometimes! Sounds like all your efforts will get you there in the end though. Teddy learned the light switch trick. We started off giving him a chair to stand his front paws on so that he wasn’t awkwardly clawing at the walls. It’s helped and now he can ‘hit the light’ pretty well without it. Best wishes going forward!
I never thought of a chair…that could possibly work. We might give it a try. It’s always good to know we’re not alone in our struggles, isn’t it? One thing we are around here is persistent…we don’t give up, even if we do slow down sometimes. 🙂
I feel your frustrations here. Sometimes it’s just so difficult to try and figure out what is going on in their head. Delilah is a crazy barker in the car, but only when someone approaches it. Try getting gas in NJ. What a nightmare. I’ve taken to feeding her treats when someone approaches and reassuring her that it’s okay.
No thoughts for you on the crate, except maybe once he’s used to it being there, put his favorite toy in it and just leave it? As for his paws, have you tried a dremmel? (sp?) Sampson’s not big on trimming because his quick is so sensitive and the dremmel is even worse with it’s vibrating, but it might not be an issue with Luke.
I’m working on a new thing with my guys (should be posting that next week) and wait til you see how excited Delilah is. Honestly food driven dogs can be very hard. I remembered just in time I had the camera set up to video the session and kept myself from saying “Sit your @ss down, right there.” LOL
The part of it Luke doesn’t seem to like is just me holding onto his paws, so I’m not sure the dremmel would work. Plus if it makes noise that seems even more doubtful. But who knows, it may be something I should just try anyway, and the girls might like it better. Cricket is at least not afraid of noises.
Can’t wait to hear what new thing you guys are up to!
easy rider says
we have the nail trimming problem too…. I would like to get such a dremel, but I’m not sure if we can use it. So I sighed and called the vet for an appointment :o(
If only that was an option! Luke won’t let the vet anywhere near him…..