Logan – part 21 – trigger stacking

John & Logan Lo Res-19

Thursday evening: we ventured into the city centre to do more work visting new places which are busy with people. We have done this several times before, with increasing amounts of success each time. The problem behaviours he exhibits are pulling on the lead, barking and killing of traffic cones, all caused by high arousal levels.

What worked in our favour

  • we have visited the city centre several times in the evening over the summer, all trips were busy with pedestrians
  • we worked in the middle of George Square, which gave us time and distance to watch “stuff”, people, boarders, cyclists, buskers etc
  • we have been making good progress on raising and lowering his arousal levels over the last few weeks
  • he was well fed, watered and exercised but not over-exercised that day

What didn’t do too well

  • we saw three dogs within a very short space of time in the square
  • it was the first time in the town when it was dark
  • there were loads of skate boarders in the square doing tricks – we did work as far away from them as we could
  • lots of tourists with wheeled suitcases – something new for him

W3 (2)

Trigger stacking is when too many of the small things which annoy/upset us happen too closely in time without us having an opportunity to cool off. Think of it in terms of losing a parking place on a sunny day when your life is good versus losing the same spot the day before Christmas when you are loaded with the cold, there is heavy sleet and you haven’t bought your loved one a present. One is no big deal, the other cold cause you to have an angry outburst.

We were doing really well, he was responding well to my cues when I asked for behaviours and we were about to call it a day. In hindsight, I waited 5 minutes too long and then we had a 5 minute walk back to the car. He then became aroused, the probelem behaviours kept occurring and he was having difficulty recovering. Remember, behaviour is just information about how we are feeling and we are always trying to achieve something. He had done too much.

What I could have done differently

  • next time, we will park closer to where we are training
  • more work needs to be done around people in the dark in some quieter areas as the darkness and busy streets seem to spook him
  • less is more, a shorter session.

In working with Logan I have to reflect often on what is working and what is not and then make adjustments. As ever, progress is happening, just not always according to my agenda.

Good points from this week

  • lead walking is improving significantly which means the pressure is off me short term over nail care as the pavement is filing them nicely. We still work on husbandry trainign as part of his daily routine.
  • we walked along a street in the industrial park with cones on each side, he walked past them all, something which was impossible 2 months ago.

Thanks for reading. Happy training.

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Logan – part 20 – setting the human up for success

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There are two beings involved in any training process, the learner and the teacher. As Logan and I get to know each other, we both switch these roles over from time to time. He is teaching me to examine the science of learning more deeply so that I can meet his needs more, he is teaching me patience and and to do my best to remain compassionate towards him. He is struggling in certain environments and I need to occasionally remind myself of that.

The point of this is that this lack of progress (which is only the expectations I have, rather than what is going on as we are progressing every day), can lead to my behaviour of training him not being reinforced enough. Behaviour is lawful, that means my behaviour is lawful too. If my behaviour of doing a particular exercise with him isn’t reinforced well enough, then it is unlikley to get stronger or reoccur. Loose lead walking is one of these behaviours. When he came to live with me, he pulled like a train on the lead all the time. And I mean all the time, never not. Because his history of pulling on the lead was so strong, it has taken a long time to change. That, combined with me not practicing enough due to lack of reinforcement means we hadn’ been showing much progress. Having said that, his high arousal levels are the root cause of his pulling and we do work on reducing, or him controlling, his arousal every day and this is paying off.

So what have I done about it? I’ve changed the criteria for my behaviour. I’ll save you all the details as not to bore you but I’ve switched my perspective on his lead walking. This has allowed me to be reinforced more often and to start seeing the progress he is making rather than being frustrated (remember, frustration comes from a previously reinforced behaviour not being working, not enough reinforcment leads to frustration).

The other thing I have done is change my antecedents. I make sure I am wearing comfortable clothing and trainers (sneakers for those Stateside), and always have my treat pouch loaded with goodies for work when we encounter people and dogs. The other thing I have done is listen to my favourite podcasts. Drinking from the Toilet by Hannah Brannigan, The Fenzi Dog Sport Academy Podcast and The Cognitive Dog Podcasts are all on my playlists. I select one which will run for the amount of time I want to be out and let it play while we do our training walk. I have now increased the amount of reinforcement available to me and as such we are doing more training walks and we are getting better at it. Just like anything, the more you pratice, the better you get at it.

As a side note, over the last two days we have seen 8 dogs when we have been out on the lead training walks; number of barks = 6, and these were only at two of the dogs we saw. He has walked by 6 dogs without barking and been far more relaxed around people when out.

Slowly getting there.

 

 

What is progress?

Sydney

I’m just back in from an 80 minute walk with Logan. When I go out on long walks in the evening, it gives me time to watch him and mull over ideas in my mind about where we are going next, where we are now and formulate thoughts about what to share with you.

I am going to publish this both as part of Logan’s blog and as one of mt GDT blogs to please forgive the repetition.

I had a PT today with my rehab coach, Scott. We were talking about what progress is and how we measure it. Last year, my back was in such a state that I couldn’t properly lift a 12kg kettlebell. With Scott’s help and tuition, today I cleaned the 32kg kettlebell for 3 reps left and 3 reps right for 2 sets. A personal best which I am delighted with. Around 10 months of work, one session a week with lots of stretching in between. Could I have progressed more quickly with another session a week? Yes, possibly. During one of the reps, my technique was a little off and I didn’t rack the bell on my chest well enough and had to adjust a moving 32kg (70lb) weight without dropping it or injuring myself. Scott’s observation was that the recovery from the failed rep shows how far I have come and how much I am getting stronger.

I’ll get to how this applies to dog training in a moment but I find my clients learn well from human analogies. My sport is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I have been training for seven and a half years and have been a blue belt for 6 years. I am on the cusp of being promoted to purple belt. There have been times in the last six years where I have come in from the gym feeling dejected and disheartened that I am not improving as quickly as I want to. My Coach, Ricky reminds us that it’s a personal journey and that the comparison is only with ourselves. This is hard as the ego kicks in and it takes intestinal fortitude to keep coming in and getting smashed by a 25 year old monster who has only been training for 5 minutes.

This evening on our walk we had a mixed bag. Loads of really lovely connected walking on a loose lead, less reactivity to the dogs we encoutered. When I say less, I mean that; less. Not none. I measure our progress in many ways. Out of the hour, how much time does he spend pulling on the lead versus engaging with me or walking with me? How readily can he take food reinforcement from me? (I talked about this in the last blog). When he reacts to a dog, how many barks, how long does the barking last for, how intense is the bark, can he take food during it, how quickly does he recover and go bark to his baseline behaviour? If he reacts to one dog will he do that same to the next? Does he react to everything which previously upset him or only some of those things? This is the big one; when he is stressed what will he do now? Tonight we saw a few dogs which upset him a little. He was then able to calm down relatively quickly and a few minutes later was walked past several traffic cones. Result! If that had happened a few months ago the traffic cones wouldn’t have been safe.

I have been lifting weight on and off for 20 years. Would it ever occur to you to say to me “Why can’t you clean and jerk that 32kg kettlebell?” Maybe yes but more likely no. But we feel under pressure from others (usually via social media from those who make assumptions from little information) as to why our dogs are not doing ABC after so many months or are still doing problem behaviours XYZ after an arbitrary period of time (usually ones they have come up with). Life gets in the way. Injuries, other commitments on your time, other interests. When you are working on a project with your dog, whether problem behaviours, trick training, competition etc, the progress is against where you were yesterday or last week, where your own head is and how your own skills are developing, not in relation to anyone else. I tell my clients that progress is not linear and a few are quick to mention it in comments back to me which I am thank ful for. It is ok and sometimes necessary to regress. Last week at the gym, by back was stiff so we dialled it back and did some movement exercised and stretching. Is this regression or is this taking the break my body needs? That break allowed me to hit a PB today. If it’s not going well with your dog, take your foot off the pedal and do  something else with your dog and try again after you regroup (yes, Linda, I know!). Again, progress is not linear.

Keeping this in mind witll keep us sane and focused (at least that is the plan)

Logan – part 19 – What is Progress?

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I’m just back in from an 80 minute walk with him. When I go out on long walks in the evening, it gives me time to watch him and mull over ideas in my mind about where we are going next, where we are now and formulate thoughts about what to share with you.

I am going to publish this both as part of Logan’s blog and as one of mt GDT blogs to please forgive the repetition.

I had a PT today with my rehab coach, Scott. We were talking about what progress is and how we measure it. Last year, my back was in such a state that I couldn’t properly lift a 12kg kettlebell. With Scott’s help and tuition, today I cleaned the 32kg kettlebell for 3 reps left and 3 reps right for 2 sets. A personal best which I am delighted with. Around 10 months of work, one session a week with lots of stretching in between. Could I have progressed more quickly with another session a week? Yes, possibly. During one of the reps, my technique was a little off and I didn’t rack the bell on my chest well enough and had to adjust a moving 32kg (70lb) weight without dropping it or injuring myself. Scott’s observation was that the recovery from the failed rep shows how far I have come and how much I am getting stronger.

I’ll get to how this applies to dog training in a moment but I find my clients learn well from human analogies. My sport is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I have been training for seven and a half years and have been a blue belt for 6 years. I am on the cusp of being promoted to purple belt. There have been times in the last six years where I have come in from the gym feeling dejected and disheartened that I am not improving as quickly as I want to. My Coach, Ricky reminds us that it’s a personal journey and that the comparison is only with ourselves. This is hard as the ego kicks in and it takes intestinal fortitude to keep coming in and getting smashed by a 25 year old monster who has only been training for 5 minutes.

This evening on our walk we had a mixed bag. Loads of really lovely connected walking on a loose lead, less reactivity to the dogs we encoutered. When I say less, I mean that; less. Not none. I measure our progress in many ways. Out of the hour, how much time does he spend pulling on the lead versus engaging with me or walking with me? How readily can he take food reinforcement from me? (I talked about this in the last blog). When he reacts to a dog, how many barks, how long does the barking last for, how intense is the bark, can he take food during it, how quickly does he recover and go bark to his baseline behaviour? If he reacts to one dog will he do that same to the next? Does he react to everything which previously upset him or only some of those things? This is the big one; when he is stressed what will he do now? Tonight we saw a few dogs which upset him a little. He was then able to calm down relatively quickly and a few minutes later was walked past several traffic cones. Result! If that had happened a few months ago the traffic cones wouldn’t have been safe.

I have been lifting weight on and off for 20 years. Would it ever occur to you to say to me “Why can’t you clean and jerk that 32kg kettlebell?” Maybe yes but more likely no. But we feel under pressure from others (usually via social media from those who make assumptions from little information) as to why our dogs are not doing ABC after so many months or are still doing problem behaviours XYZ after an arbitrary period of time (usually ones they have come up with). Life gets in the way. Injuries, other commitments on your time, other interests. When you are working on a project with your dog, whether problem behaviours, trick training, competition etc, the progress is against where you were yesterday or last week, where your own head is and how your own skills are developing, not in relation to anyone else. I tell my clients that progress is not linear and a few are quick to mention it in comments back to me which I am thank ful for. It is ok and sometimes necessary to regress. Last week at the gym, by back was stiff so we dialled it back and did some movement exercised and stretching. Is this regression or is this taking the break my body needs? That break allowed me to hit a PB today. If it’s not going well with your dog, take your foot off the pedal and do  something else with your dog and try again after you regroup (yes, Linda, I know!). Again, progress is not linear.

Keeping this in mind will keep us sane and focused (at least that is the plan).

Logan – Part 18 – some progress

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His high arousal levels are the root cause of most of the training issues we have. We work on this together, if not daily, then 5 times a week. Controlled play, asking him to come back down, playing again, changing reinforcers are the name of the game.

Since we attended Craig Ogilvie’s workshop on Interactive Play a few weeks ago, I now have a structure to work within. I don’t work rigidly within it, but use the principles as a basis for these sessions. We are just back in from a session. A rare hot, late summer afternoon here, means I have to watch how hot he gets as when he gets too hot, he can become over aroused more quickly and take longer to calm down.

One of the things Craig showed us during the workshop was to stop play after a period (with him after 40-60s), take him by the collar and offer a high value piece of food. I then have to pet and stroke him, and when he calms down, the game can start again. This works on a number of levels. The taking of the collar becomes a cue for him to calm down. Whether he takes or refuses the food (he won’t take food if too aroused) indicates his arousal level. Once he offers calmer behaviour (less panting, more attention to me) the continuation of the game acts to reinforce these behaviours. The collar touch cue can then be used in time on other locations and situations to ask him to calm down. This has already started to transfer.

How I deliver food is also interesting (at least I think so). Tossing and catching the food is more of a game so he will more readily do that. Taking food from my hand is next. I can then drop or toss food on to the ground and ask him to search for it. This one takes more calmess as he has to engage a different part of his brain to concentrate on the searching. All of these allow me to gauge where his head is.

I kept the session reasonably short today. I also added in throwing the Kongs for him to chase and search for. We did about six throws. This is a highly arousing activity for him and one which he has found difficult to come down from in the past. After the toy throwing, I put the Kongs on the other side of the fence where he could see them but not reach them. I offered him a drink of water which he took and then walked away from him. He looked at the Kongs, nice calm behaviour, just looking. When he looked away from them and towards me, I marked this and then offered another game of tug. A few times he raced towards me and played. I then asked for an “out”. This was reinforced with a variety of options. More play with me, some food and then play, going back to look at the Kongs (no access to them) or going to his water bowl.  The result was more interaction with me, letting him choose the reinforcers. I will try to get some video of this over the weekend.

At the end of the session, I put all toys away in the bag, spent some time walking around the area with him and then brought him home. He is now lying at my feet sleeping. Six months ago he would have worked himself up sufficiently that it would have taken him and hour to switch off when he came home. A work in progress but some good results today.