Doggy House Calls (a new dog training TV show) and the Freedom Harness

September 18, 2011 at 10:25 am 2 comments

I found this video – the premiere episode of “Doggy House Calls” – via the dogbehaviorscience forum:

*There’s a boston terrier!!!

I’m happy to announce that recently my new television show, Doggy House Calls, aired here in London, Ontario, Canada on Rogers TV.
Doggy House Calls features clicker training and purely positive reinforcement techniques! The first show featured a reactive chihuahua named Tater, the dog showed excellent results using the LAT game almost immediately.. good representation for positive training!Melissa Millet

It must be  hard to make Clicker Training look exciting on TV because in reality it’s quite visually repetitive and boring. During clicker sessions, the human trainer is fairly still and quiet… not a lot of moving around or theatrics (unlike on The Dog Whisperer Show). Cool article about the reality of dog training: The Quest For Boring

Personally I would love to watch a Clicker Training TV show that focuses more on what the dog is communicating. I think it would be cool for there to be subtitles drawing attention to body language or what the dog is doing right, explaining the tiny subtle doggie behaviors that our untrained eyes might miss while we are busy listening to the human actors.

Funny thing – today Sarah (Boogie’s trainer) came to visit, and the first time she called out Boogie’s name “Boogie!”, Boogie turned his head towards ME! He then turned back to Sarah for his treat. He did it again the second time she called his name. For a split second, he looked at me before he looked at Sarah. The power of Positive Reinforcement. Those Name Game sessions are paying off. :)

So this afternoon Sarah lent me her Freedom No-Pull Harnesses. These are complicated looking harnesses. So many strappy bits to lengthen or shorten, multiple  buckles and things. There are two rings – one on the chest in front, and the other at the back. And the leash that comes with the harness is a double leash with two clips.

As I was saying to Sarah:  Boogie walks nicely on leash until he decides that he wants to go in a different direction. I used to do Premack with him. So much so that he now turns to look at me while pulling away at the same time.  I call him, I hold out treats, I hold out my hand “Touch!” (for nose target). Nope, Boogie continues to pull and refuses to come to me. It’s almost as if he is over-threshold and nothing I can do or say will make him loosen the leash.

Boogie pleads with his entire body, all four legs leaning away from me at a 45 degree angle, yawns, lip licks, head turns… the full kaboodle of “calming signals”.

“No. I don’t want to go that way. PLEEEEAAASE…I want to go THIS way”.

Boogie sometimes even pulls himself into a SIT or DOWN position and stays there until I give in. Meanwhile, passersby are laughing at us.

And yes, I keep reinforcing this behavior by eventually giving in and walking in Boogie’s chosen direction.  I can see people/triggers/cars approaching and I think to myself it’s better to move than to not move at all.

I am hoping that the Freedom Harness will help me break this frustrating cycle/habit, and I can train polite loose-leash walking from scratch. For Boogie it would also be a new and different sensation.

So far, I notice that the Freedom leash is much shorter than our regular leash. I have more control and I can feel the tension on the leash as soon as it happens, such that I can call Boogie (click and treat) before the leash fully tightens <– my new challenge is to not let Boogie go too far. I need to call him much sooner before he is already pulling with all his might.

It is also SO much easier to walk two dogs together with these harnesses. Less criss-crossing and tangling of leashes and I don’t have to suffer having both my arms stretched in opposite directions. (e.g, when Boogie wants to charge ahead and when Butch wants to stop and pee on every tree)

Above is a photo of Butch and Boogie with Sarah and her bag of chicken pieces.  JUST LOOK AT THOSE FACES!

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Entry filed under: Articles, links, Cool Products, Reads, Training. Tags: .

You get what you train for. Freedom No-Pull Harness: Day 3

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