As much as I would like to keep an accurate journal of our training, it is nigh impossible. We are now back at the classes twice a week, plus spending weekends at the IPO club. We have also reached the teenager stage with all its challenges. Compared to Yarpen Falka is actually quite easy, but that doesn’t mean we don’t struggle sometimes! Pretty much everything we have done to date took a hit. Her recalls are worse, though still at over 90% success. She started realising that she is big enough to explore the world on her own. Her playing with me… well, it’s dismal. As Yarpen’s health improved, they spend more and more time playing together and my attractiveness suddenly plunged. She does not tug with me, but recently I noticed she tugged with my husband! We are at a stage where some of her behaviours should be already put on cue and generalised, but due to various factors we are a little behind with it.. The current state of affaris is in equal parts caused by her age, and by my lack of focus in training. We have had several sessions where I really did not think of what I was doing, started using the hand signal previously used for one behaviour to another and it all just became a total mess, with her switching off. I really need to get more organised again and be smarter about the time we spend together.
The thing I will be concentrating on now is going back to socialisation. I have to admit that over the last weeks she has not had much contact with anyone other than our Club people. We need to work on a couple of things. First, thresholds. Not surprisingly considering her breed, she doesn’t like it when a new person enters a room where she has been for some time. I will work on this by taking her to a shop, sitting a little off the entrance and clicking/treating every time someone comes through the door. Secondly, she is still happy to say a gentle hello to people, but if they touch her for too long, or stare at her directly, or make any sort of playful movements, she reacts. Overall, the first few seconds of greeting are fine, then the problems start. My plan was to use a clicker to mark before the end of the good phase and before she gets the idea of reacting. This way I am rewarding her for the nice part of greeting, but also by pulling her away from the stranger, I am restoring her personal space and giving her a “breathe out”. I have tried that a couple of times, but it appears that we have lost the value of the clicker (over the last weeks we were working mainly with verbal markers)! So, back to charging the clicker with super valuable treats first, then using it in the highly demanding situations.