Our Plan of Action

This is our Plan of Action, or POA. It will be modified as needed. I’m writing this out kind of informally.

Short term goal is she has a default sit for everything she wants and it becomes a habit, not a trick. It then transfers to everything else we do whereas focusing on me becomes a habit. Dr. Yin stressed this ‘creating a habit’ when rehabilitating dogs with fear anxiety and aggression.

We’re going to be combining a few methods that are actually very similar. The  first is Dr. Sophia Yin’s Learn to Earn program as she has mapped out in her book Perfect Puppy in 7 Days. We’re also incorporating Control Unleashed, which we will modify as needed to Dr. Yin’s program. And I’m also using some Susan Garrett methods from Ruff Love and Crate Games.

1. Say Please by Sitting  — anything she wants from me she has to sit and pay attention to me. This includes going through closed doors, being petted, putting on her leash, going in and out of the car, going for walks, meals, greeting people, etc. Everything that she wants that I can give her she has to sit and look at me. This is also our default behavior as described in Control Unleashed, so it matches.

2. Crate Games — this also teaches a default sit for what she wants and builds a lot of value for the crate which ends up transferring to other things like dog beds and doors. We’ve played a lot of crate games inside the house. I need to take it on the road to the backyard and other locations.

3. Ruff Love– Ruff Love is also similar to L2E in that the dog has to ask for everything. The dog is also on a leash at all times in Stage 1 so they are only being reinforced by you and you can control all reinforcement. Ruff Love has a few extra games like hand targets and sit-tug-sit game, all of which go well with L2E. I’m not restricting her to sit on the couch or the bed like Ruff Love indicates and she’s not sleeping in her crate. But she does have to sit before she can jump on the furniture.

4. Turning Sit into a Game outlined in Perfect Puppy in 7 Days, in Dr. Yin’s videos online and what she taught us at the seminar. Again it’s similar to Susan Garrett’s reinforcement zone game. Dr. Yin though starts the dog on a leash tethered to you. Susan’s reinforcement zone also only works the right and left side. Dr. Yin uses the front at first because for  default sit, that’s the easiest place for the dog to sit and look at you.  With Dr. Yin’s game we move in all directions — backwards, forward, side to side, around in circles. The footwork and movement is really important as well as the rate of reinforcement. I learned the mechanics of this during the seminar.

5. Leave It: We’ll work on Dr. Yin’s Leave It Game which is similar to Susan Garrett’s It’s Yer Choice.  I think Susan has a good thing going with her game and Gypsy has practiced it several times. We’ll incorporate Dr. Yin’s into IYC. Since I’ve never done Dr. Yin’s Leave It Game, we’ll see which way is more successful for Gypsy and go with that. They both teach good impulse control and the It’s Yer Choice game goes a lot further into other aspects of training which will be good for our overall goal.

6. Turn Sit and Leave It to walking in heel — we’re not that far yet but it’s beginning to shape up with #4.  Once we get #4 and #5 into a habit indoors and in the yard, we’ll take it on the road and work on walking in heel.

7. Recalls — we’re always working recalls no matter what. We have a solid recall in the house. Outside in the yard is solid if she’s not chasing something or scared of a neighbor in a window. Once we work a lot on the above games, our recall with distractions and fear should get better. Our recall word is not polluted and she knows what it means. Fear and anxiety have overruled it in the past. I’m hoping to change that going forward.

8. Go to Place — we’ll be doing this a lot in Control Unleashed. I’m not going to use the Manners Minder as Dr. Yin illustrates in some of her videos and articles. I think it can be done solidly with other methods. I will, however, start to use the Manners Minder outside so when she sees a scary neighbor in the window, she’ll hit the target and get rewarded with the MM, which will be placed indoors.

All of this will be done by classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and shaping. She’ll be rewarded for behaviors I want and only that. The rate of reinforcement will be high, with a few rapid fires built in when needed.

Dr. Yin noted in the seminar that it takes several hundred good reinforcements for something to really click with the dog and become a habit. So if I am training an automatic sit at the door and we only go out 4 times a day, and she’s successful at 3 of them, it’s going to take 100 days for it to become habit. So we will work specific sessions in short amounts of time, under 5 minutes generally to increase the reinforcement for good behavior.

Many of the methods from what we learned in the seminar are on Dr. Yin’s video page of her website. There are even some illustrated in the MM instructional DVD. If I ever need to remember the mechanics I learned in the seminar, I can resort to these videos. The videos were catered to the dog she was working with and she gave me my own methods to work with Gypsy.

Tools: Flat buckle collar, Wonder Walker harness, Buddy System Leash, Treat bag with waist belt and hinge for closure, clicker*, high-value rewards, kibble, video camera for recordkeeping, Dr. Yin’s website and books, positive reinforcement and lots of love.

* We are going to use the clicker as minimally as possible. Sometimes it will be needed but most of the time it won’t. She has a strong verbal “yes” that is the same thing and often times the click make her look back at me, when instead, I want to shape her looking at me, not making it happen with a click.

So that’s what I have so far. Comments and feedback always welcome.


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