Sunday, June 08, 2014

Training Logistics

There is a small problem at the K residence and it is in the form of a wee Spaniel who likes to bark. I understand barking is a natural thing for dogs, but this is excessive barking. It is a problem.
Somehow, I have to find a way to get it under control In an attempt to figure out how to control the barking, I began thinking of ways to change the behaviours that are associated with the racket. Some of it I can't change, but some of it I can and so I am going to try. Try and hope that by changing some of it, the rest will follow or at least become more manageable.
Part of the reason why Hermione barks is because I can't see her or really hear her, moving around because she's so small. Unless, of course, she's vocalising. She's learned that if she squawks, squeaks, yips, barks Etc, I will hear her and come to figure out what she wants. It's gotten ridiculous. Two of the things she barks for is needing a drink of water and to go outside. Both of these behaviours have alternative noisy ways to let me know what she wants.
The water, for example, is solved by encouraging one of her natural behaviours. When she's thirsty and an empty bowl is around, she digs in it. I can handle this over barking. As for going out, I've started training targeting with her so that I can teach her to ring a bell to go out. I've always thought the bell ringing was a novel idea and thought it would be fun to train, but now it's moved from the realm of "fun and neat" to "necessary."
The only problem I'm having is managing a multi-dog home during training.
In the past, I have left the dogs not being trained in the living room and taken the one I am working with to a different location in the house. The ones in the living room get upset. They tap dance, whine, sometimes bark, whack the baby gate with paws. I'm really not sure what to do with them. This has been my biggest problem in training and honestly, it's sort of turned me off of training. I haven't done nearly as much as I should because of this problem.
I have signed up to be a part of a working dog forum and posed my question to the other forum members. I've only had one response so far and it was half unhelpful, a quarter scary and a quarter sort of helpful.
The person suggested that I kennel the other dogs, train in a completely separate location (not feasible when you can't drive), "teach the other dogs to chill the *f* out" (their words, not mine), or use muzzles/Ecollars.
I probably don't have to talk about my problems with muzzles or Ecollars. I'm not even sure what a muzzle would do for a dog who is hitting/jumping over a baby gate.
The chilling out part would be good-minus the F-but they didn't tell me how to teach that.
The other dogs are just excited because I'm off with other poochie, clicking like a mad woman and dispensing kibble. They all know what that click means.
So, what do I do?
I could train outside, but that is an incredibly distracting environment. That is not the place to start training a cue.
One solution I've come up with for now is training Hermione targeting while everyone's eating breakfast/supper. I've always fed her last and so this morning I used her breakfast to get her to start targeting. I'll do the same tonight at supper time. The other dogs were too invested in their meals to notice. I actually think locking them behind the baby gate causes even more of the excitement.
Has anyone trained four dogs at once?
I could use the time to work with Nala and Roscoe on sit/down stays and train the other two?
Oh dear...I am sure chaos will ensue. Then again, they have to listen to me when they are all together anyway: why not try it this way?
Everything I've read says that one on one training is the best and all dogs need the one on one attention. The breakfast/supper with Hermione could be her one on one training time. Nala gets one on one time when we go out and work. So, it would just be Otis I'd have to work with.
I guess I'm just going to have to get creative.


pattib said...

Jess, I can think of lots of things to try, but you've hit on one of the best - reinforcing your other dogs for staying calm while you train Hermione. Training her while they eat is a great idea!

Do any of the dogs know mat? If not, try practicing the relaxation protocol with the dogs lying down on their mats. They will learn that the mats are good things. When you want to train with Hermione, give the other dogs a special chew toy (like a frozen Kong that will take a while to chew) on their mats while you are working with Hermione.

When I train my Future Leader Dog puppies in the kitchen, I have my other dogs stay on their mats. I toss them treats every now and again for staying on their mats. Gus figured out when I was getting ready to train my puppy, he would run to his mat and lie down!

You could also try the same thing when they are behind the baby gate. Just be sure to toss the treats when they are being quiet and calm, not whining!

I hope these are better suggestions than what you got from the other person!

Just Jess for now said...

LOL A hundred times better! Thank you. It's funny because after writing it out, things started coming to me. Thanks for your help. :)

pattib said...

You're welcome! Isn't that always the way? Keep us posted on how things go...

pattib said...

Hey, here is a link to MP3 files of the protocol...

Anonymous said...

I have two dogs, but when I'm training with both of them in the same area, I have one in a down stay while I'm actively working with the other dog. Every time I click and treat the active learner I give the down stay dog a treat too. Also I never formally taught my dogs to ring the bell for outside. I bought them around christmas time and life was busy. I kept meaning to teach them and come up with a systematic training plan and other ambitious and organized efforts, but alas it didn't happen. So instead I hung the bell on the doorknob and just gave them a jingle each time I took the dogs out that door. Within two days they had figured out what the bells were for and were ringing them on their own when they wanted out. So sometimes laziness does work! Good luck!

Brooke, Cessna, Canyon & Rogue said...

rogue is learning that it's not always her turn to train.

I used to put the other dogs in another area of the house while I trained one, but now I've started leaving them out and ignoring which ever dog I am not working with at the time. I pretend the other two aren't there and only reward them when they are lying down calmly and not getting in my face (like a certain fox red lab likes to do). It's a really slow process and I can't help, but laugh at some of their antics, but it's working. It really seems to be helping them learn some self-control too.