Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Beast has been tamed

Personally I have always found watching a group of dogs doing a set of stays to be about as interesting as watching paint dry, however in this case I'm sharing this video because it is doing a pretty good job of showing how far the Kerry Blue, aka: the Beast, has come since May 29, 2009. When I first met her she had only one goal in life and that was to make sure she became the only dog in the world. KB's sure do have high opinions of themselves in my experience and Brandy certainly wasn't about to disabuse me of my opinion.

As you see when watching this video, for the most part she it totally focused on her owner. And here I must add, this focus is Brandy's idea. It has been achieved through the liberal use of properly selected distractions, praise, patience, praise, a steady step-by-step form of teaching first, praise and then training, corrections when mistakes are made, praise and yes, in the very beginning a couple of short, sharp and very serious "punishments" to make it easy for her to understand where the behavior line was drawn. Meaning very specifically, good dogs don't try to eat other dogs or people. After that Brandy was and continues to be given ever growing amounts of freedom to make her own choices.

Before anyone asks, no we did not use bribes, be they treats, food, or toys. What we did do and will continue to do is to honor her 'dogness' and show respect for her ability to learn by a method that acknowledges her unique idenity.

However, food, toys, treats have been used and will continue to be used on occasion as low intensity distractions. It takes much practice at saying 'no I won't' before the pride of being able to say 'yes I can' takes hold. We are just starting to enter that phase now. Her ability to maintain focus on her owner clearly shows that. Brandy is very typical of all good terriers in that she is able to call into action a laser beam form of focus. In the past that laser beam was turned on any and everything she considered as prey. Now she is learning better and certainly more acceptable ways of making use of that focus. The thing that is always so very interesting to me is how when the same intensity of focus is turned toward the owner, in every single case that laser beam has been softened to a mood light.

Lest you think all Brandy can handle are the stationary exercises here is a short clip of her working at a reasonably close distance from other dogs. Notice that she must deal with not only dogs on both sides of her, but also dogs either in front or behind her. I know it's difficult, but do try to keep your eye on the Kerry Blue since that is the dog we have been following.

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