Tuesday, April 19, 2011

You've got it all Wrong

Today in our daily journey of adventure, we went to the dog park. Jasper and I moseyed around, and settled at a picnic table for a little bit before going swimming. *Rewarding calmness before an arousing and exciting swim* Anyways before we talk about that, I wanted to say that we met 4 new dogs at the park today. They were all owned by a couple and they sat near us. A lab puppy, a boston terrier, a basset mix, and a husky. They all had a quirk to them. The husky growled at anyone near "his waterbowl" the boston terrier guarded his ball, the basset mix showed multiple calming signals, and the lab puppy just freely bites when she wants to I suppose.

Now Jasper is pretty aloof. He doesn't feel hurt when a dog doesn't want to play or interact, and he usually just walks on by. When Jasper walked to the water bowl, the husky growled and guarded the bowl the whole time. I called Jasper away and then told him to go drink after the husky was done. (That husky was being a goofball, he wasn't thirsty,  he already had a gallon of water, he was being silly) So Jasper got his drink, and walked past the basset mix. The basset mix did all of the following: she licked her lips several times, she turned her head, and she showed her teeth, and yet she never attacked.

I would not call her aggressive but more so a worried dog who is only warning other dogs (even Jasper who had no intention of messing with her anyways) to leave her alone. However if someone else saw these behaviors, would they call her aggressive or deem her to be banned from the park because she showed her teeth? Who knows her history?

Think of it this way. Let's say a child sort of backs away when a dog approaches him or her. Why would they do this? There are probably two reasons. One: a terrible mishap with another dog, or Two: which is highly unlikely, he has never seen a dog before and is just nervous about the whole experience. Why does the child back away? Well, why do you back away when you see a snake out in the grass? Surely you wouldn't go towards it and say leave me alone. And this is just like this basset mix. All she was doing was basically saying hey guys, I mean no harm (by licking her lips, and not making eye contact) and I have a feeling she showed her teeth saying if you bother me, I have a weapon! Just like we would if a stranger approached us in a dark ally, we would break out that mace wouldn't we? We wouldn't be called aggressive, we would just be known as someone defending ourselves. And this is how I think of the dog.  She only gave warnings the whole time, she did not once snap, or bite another dog checking her out.

And yet when Jasper goes to say hi to the female lab puppy, the puppy gets stiff, she freezes, and bites at Jasper's neck. Neither I nor Jasper was traumatized, in fact, Jasper just slowly walked away like geeze lady, sorry! We just left that area and eventually went swimming. However, at that moment, I would have thought the owner would have taken the dog out of the park that very instant instead of just saying, " Eclipse! " in a shocked manner. If it were my doggy, the dog would figure out soon that when something like that happens, sorry, we have to leave now, the field trip is canceled and swimming is too!

Oh well, but it is a lesson in itself. To think that people may call the basset mix aggressive, and yet to see the lab puppy attack.

Anyways me and Jasper.. we have our routine when it is pool time. I started doing some premacking before having him jump in the lake. On our way out of the dog park, as soon as I touch the gate, Jasper knows to sit and watch me, not the lake. Even if I open the door, he watches me and waits till I say "OK"
What I have been doing lately is lining him up from the dog park door, and telling him to stay, while I go about half way to the lake already and release him to the lake. This way, I am teaching Jasper that he works for these life rewards and that I am the one who possesses all of these wonderful things and that he looks to me for guidance before just running like crazy away from me. It's sort of like, if you don't eat your vegetables, you don't get dessert! Grandma's rule! We will eat our vegetables because we want dessert, and Jasper will listen to the things I ask him to do before he gets his lake time.

It is all about premacking. I am going to research more about it today and tomorrow. It seems like a great tool to use. I have heard by using this technique, you will have a dog who will see a squirrel and look at you for guidance asking, "Can I go chase?" instead of a dog just bolting out of your control to it. I love the idea!

Oh and by the way, our drive is getting better while working. I am starting to set the bowl down with food on the floor when we train and he doesn't bother it. His drive to recall is better than it was when we used to have food on the ground. I will have to post a video soon about that. Edit: Video added!

And by the way by the way, I do not understand why I haven't done this but when me and Jasper play games and he gets too aroused, I just need to end the game at that time. Arousal is fine but jumping and biting (on accident) is not ok, even if it was a mistake. Today me and Jasper were playing tug, I took the tug and ran away and he jumped (no jumping in this game) and tried to bite the tug but bit my stomach instead, yeeeeowch! All I did was make an ouch! sound, put the tug up and went back to my computer. Jasper understood what had happened and understood he made an uh oh, and laid on my feet and went to sleep. He is so sweet, he knows I love that!

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