Training with Ally – Starting at the beginning

I picked up Ally as a 7 week old puppy from Nebraska, and two weeks after that my life turned upside down. I was going through emotional issues and I moved to a different state. Ally got stuck in the middle of all of this, and because of that she did not get the foundation training she needed.

Because I did not give her the attention she needed and deserved, along with a very weak foundation, she has some behavioral issues. She is reactive and tends to want to chase anything that moves, she has a lack of focus and almost zero impulse control. Ally is now 2 1/2 and needs to go back and learn the foundation she should have received when she was a puppy.

So Ally and I are starting from the beginning, Ally has so much potential it is truly scary. Even with her lack of foundation she is incredibly smart, wants to learn, and loves to work. But right now she doesn’t know how to control her impulses to do those things, so we will be going back to the beginning and teaching her those skills.

Below are some videos of Ally that I am going to use as a “before”, hopefully in the next 6-8 months we will see lots of improvement in her behavior and we can look at these videos to see how far we have come. :-)

As you can see in the below videos, she wants to turn back at me a lot and comes into my “space” a lot. These are things that need to be addressed outside the agility ring with more foundation and teamwork skills.

Ally’s Plan

The first thing I will be teaching her is shaping, I am an avid clicker person and I love shaping, something Ally didn’t get when she was a puppy. So, I will be teaching her what the clicker is and free shaping some behaviors with her. In the below video, I am introducing her to the clicker. You will see that in the beginning I am clicking and then immediately feeding her, as the video progresses, I start adding some delay between the click and her food. I want her to learn that the click means food, but sometimes there will be a delay, so when i start teaching her behaviors she doesn’t pull out of “work mode” to come get food from me.  I differ from many clicker people by doing this, but I like the clicker to tell my dog that they are doing something correct, but that doesn’t always mean to break the behavior to come get food. Weave poles for example, if i click my dog for a good entry, I don’t want them leaving the poles to come get food from me, the click is just to tell them that what they just did was great!

Another thing that will be happening with Ally for a while is that she will be sleeping in a crate and will be in a crate while I am out of the house. The reason for this is that I want to control the actions she has with the other dogs. She has a very, very hard eye and tends to want to herd the other three dogs around the house, especially Nargles. By only allowing her out of the crate when I am home I can control these behaviors and start to work on her impulse control so she doesn’t feel the need to react to the other dogs so strongly.

I will also be working on Ally’s targeting skills, she has the basics of targeting but I want to improve on that and bring her to a more advanced level before I start asking her to work with any agility equipment. I need her to be focused and have more impulse control before I can really ask for her to keep her mind while playing agility.

In conjunction with her clicker work and targeting work, I will be honing her moving wait. She has a fairly good wait right now, but I want to more impulse control work with her Moving Wait. (More info about my Moving Wait can be found at this link:  Moving Wait and Wait Again! )

I will have a discussion board on the Fluid Motion Forum where anyone can ask questions about Ally’s training and her progress. :-)

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