Monday, 10 February 2014

Middle-aged Mutant Ninja Dog Training

For anyone confused by the allusion in this post title, click here. I think the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were popular with grade six boys when I first started teaching. I could name certain boys (now well into their thirties and well-established in some impressive life pursuits) ... but who knows what sorts of devastation such a revelation could wreak? ;-)

Anyway, the trainer in this video on "counter-conditioning" for hyper-reactivity looks a little like this (you only need to watch the first few seconds to get the idea!):

The dog he's working with does more pulling than Freddie (whose loose-leash manners have improved considerably) and reacts to a bigger variety of stimuli (Freddie's main challenge is other dogs — OK, and leaves) ... but the principle of clicking (or "yessing") the dog for noticing a stimulus without going over the edge, then rewarding the dog immediately, is pretty much what our trainer had us working on in yesterday's class — minus the Ninja moves and attitude. I added those on our walk this morning.

I'm in this first photo, but of course you can't see me — too stealthy.

And this one — scaling the rooftop.

There wasn't a whole lot of action on 4th Avenue at 8:45 this morning, this being "Family Day" and all, but enough for Freddie to do a few good rounds of dognoring. The one flop was a big, bouncy doodle whose person allowed him to trot over to where I was crouched next to Freddie — even though I'd politely refused his offer to have the dogs say hello. Grrr.

This dog (below), chilling out on a balcony right above where Freddie was taking a sniff break, was a Master Dognorer. I hadn't noticed him/her at all when I told Freddie to "Go sniff." If Freddie noticed, he gave no sign that he did.

Triumph at the grates! At last Freddie conquers the ghosts living under the Vancouver School Board building ...

That piece of duck was just too tempting. Touchdown with the front paws!

Grates everywhere ...

One of our stations for watching the stimuli go by ...

And another ...


As the TMNTs (and several of my students) used to say, Kowabunga!


  1. Wow, Freddie did great! Don't count that one flop, because that one was certainly someone else's fault (if only we didn't have to deal with other idiots). You certainly have a variety of stimuli on your walks, so if he can ignore a lot of it that is great.
    I do remember the TMNT...I believe they were created in my hubby's hometown, if I remember correctly.
    Oh, and aren't your mountains beautiful! Thanks for joining the hop!

    1. Thanks, Jan! I needed that — lots of challenges on this morning's walk! :)


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