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Thread: CU: Environmental stimulus above puppy threshold

  1. #1
    AuCaDo Member pyralisdawn's Avatar
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    Jul 2014

    Default CU: Environmental stimulus above puppy threshold

    So, I've been reading the Control Unleashed: Puppy Program book and it has offered all kinds of great strategies for training that Rooney at only 11 weeks is already picking up on! One of the things Leslie addresses in the book is making sure you bring your puppy back to a place where it can succeed before expecting them to be able to go a little beyond that. Obviously Rooney is still a puppy and this is a work in progress that will continue with time, but something that makes this difficult for us is that I don't have a lot of control over the stimuli we encounter on our walks, since we live on an operating farm and there are many other people and wildlife using the space around us. For instance, today leaving the house for a walk we ran across a rotting, maggoty chicken bone that had been dragged to the front door by a raccoon and Rooney totally lost it trying to get that bone! Which, if I were her, I would do too!

    I'm doing my best to just remove her from situations that are too stressful/sensory overload/too interesting by picking her up and taking her somewhere else and engaging in a game or treat tricks that she enjoys, but I'm afraid that if I keep doing this she is going to learn that every time we come across something she wants to get into I will just whisk her away from the "fun" and suddenly her games are no longer appealing. I let her freely explore any places and situations that are safe or even borderline safe with close monitoring, but there are some things that are still too much for her to override right now (see also, devouring goat poop and then vomiting all over). I'm doing my best to balance between letting her have her fun where she can and taking her away where she can't, but there are just so many "can't" situations right around our living space that sometimes we get a little frustrated!

    Any advice on keeping her more focused on the things she can enjoy? We have lots of special toys and treats and games, but they don't really to hold a candle to the call of a compost pile, and there's really only so much I can do to limit her exposure to these things, making it difficult to build up to them gradually. We do best on the leash where I can gently stop her from even 'going there', but again, I do not want to teach her that the leash is a battle against the things she wants to check out! And we are doing really well with a lot of off-leash "velcro" time outdoors that I'd like to keep up.

  2. #2
    AuCaDo Veteran fanofdmb84's Avatar
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    Nov 2008
    Appleton, Wisconsin

    Default Re: CU: Environmental stimulus above puppy threshold

    Only have a minute, I'll try to come back to elaborate.

    First, look into the Premack Principle (surely CU talks of this? It's been too long since I've read it). Anyway, that will develop some great impulse control without driving you batty trying to control an uncontrollable environment.

    Second, set her up. Gather some goat poo, etc behind a barn where other distractions are limited, and practice training under threshold there. (Trainers have a saying, train when you don't need it, so you have it when you do need it!)

    Last, I think you are doing a great job with removing her from certain things. She's still so young, you have plenty of time to refine behaviors later. Remeber, the more she practices poor judgement, the more it will happen, so for now, keep making good choices for her. Eventually she may make the decision to leave the bone alone - playing with you will be more rewarding since fighting to get to the bone never pays off anyway!

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