Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Making Choices, Managing Prey Drive

Today is the last day of Part II of Making Choices, Managing Prey Drive at the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy.  Everyone is filling out their exit surveys, sending me their final videos and getting ready for two weeks off before the next semester of classes.

The meat world class here in Clearwater, Florida starts this coming Saturday at 6 pm and I can't wait to see a whole new group of dogs learn that their humans are more exciting then the squirrel in the tree.  If you wish to join us in this class, call me at 727-686-4246.

Here are some of the success stories from this class:

Just wanted to say thank you for everything! You have made a huge difference in my little dog. We will continue to work hard and start taking our games on the road. Hopefully we will take the distractions class at bronze in June. I will miss your feedback but we are excited for the new games! 

Thanks for a great class - got a lot out of it.. I will be taking the distractions class in June, not sure at what level yet. We still have work to do, but before these classes, we would not have stood a chance of being able to work in this situation 

Now it is a good thing the fence was there as she charged it , I called out Lexi!!!!! She whipped around and came back ...I nearly died. She came in and ate and turned away I said her name again and tossed a handful of treats in the air ...she stopped and proceeded to eat. Overall I am pleased -still a ways to go but very pleased. What I liked was she was relaxed and not on edge. I am looking at the distraction class ....thinking :)  Jamie thanks ever so much for the great class.

I just completed your managing prey drive 2 class with my youngster Gus. He is a squirrel, bunny and deer happy boy. I participated in the bronze level and still got so so so much out your class. Thank you! I've only had this pup for 11 months. He's a shelter rescue but he is pure joy and I'm loving where this class is taking us. Looking forward to more of your fenzi classes in the future. Thank you again. 

If you struggle with a dog who loses focus quickly, takes off with zoomies around the ring, distracted by smells and sounds, doesn’t listen, bolts out the door; Prey Drive class is for you! And besides building our relationship so those distractions aren't important we also got an awesome recall! 

I liked this course , its format is out of the box thinking . For those of us who applied ourselves and tried the games we saw changes in our dogs. 

My dog couldn't relax outside and was always obsessively searching for birds and squirrels. He was much more than a casual squirrel chaser, hunting prey was the only thing he could think about. He remained on a long line in his own back yard for several months because I was worried that he would jump the low part of our fence in pursuit of prey. We couldn't train off leash without him bolting into the bushes or charging the fence in hopes of finding prey. Prey did not even have to be visible for him to get over aroused, just their scent could send him over the top. In the past couple of weeks, he has ditched the long line. He thinks his mom is pretty cool now and he is so much more relaxed. His personal play and recalls have improved and we worked through so many fun games to improve his willingness to be with me. I also loved that Jamie provided us with ways to satisfy their prey drive, like games for scenting, shredding, etc. If you are committed to the training, it will be well worth your time. 

Thanks again for such an amazing class. We fell behind here and there but we will continue thru the break and hopefully snag a gold spot for the distractions class 

This was an amazing class. I thought I knew what Prey Drive was...not even close! Thank you to the Gold and Silver students for asking the questions and putting yourselves out there. Looking forward to Distractions! 

Donna Hill Jamie I love your classes! I've been spreading the work both locally and online. I think your class is hugely needed by many people! 

Loose dogs approaching us today.  Guess which game we played? GO (on cue)!!! Bodhi had a blast, didn’t care about those other dogs J

At the beginning of this course I had an unruly 21 month old whippet, Layla. Any time she would see a dog she was off over to it with not a glance back and turning deaf to my attempts to recall her. After completing the 2 part course I find myself on holiday with a 3 mile long beach and 1 mile wide with the tide out. Needless to say it's heaven for most dogs. I let Layla off the lead and there were a group of dogs 30 yards away she trotted 5 yards from me and then stopped and she turned round to look at me!!!! she actually turned round and asked if it was ok to go and play!! I said 'ok' and let her go play feeling triumphant! When I whistled her to call her back she 'whipped it' good and shot back over to my side with a huge smile on both our faces! I never thought this possible. Thank you so much Jamie Robinson for this amazing fun course, we have learnt so much and my gorgeous whippet has loads more self-control and even more love of life if that's possible. 

A great sequel to Managing Prey Drive 1. It helped me realize what kind of predator my dog is (i.e., which part of the prey sequence is most pronounced/satisfying to her) and what games would satisfy that part of her prey drive. Would highly recommend this class even for dogs that aren't super prey driven -- the games have helped her to make better choices in general, and the concepts and games are useful in other contexts. Once again Jamie showed her dedication to her students, gave prompt and pointed feedback, answered questions, joked around, and I felt like we were all a team. Thanks again, Jamie!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Calm In the Chaos

There are so many ways to help a dog live in a human world.  My journey has been focused on giving the dog a choice, creating a thinking dog who understands the rules of our world and can live within those rules and yet remain true to being a dog. Recently I put into an actual curriculum many of those exercises and games that help a dog in just this way.  The name of this class is Calm and Clarity in a Chaotic World – Handling Distractions.  Short name: Calm In Chaos.

Here is a comparison of a few of the ways that are in use that help dogs live in our world.  I’m not including flooding in this comparison.  I personally don’t think flooding is actually helping the dog handle the environment.  I think all that flooding does is teach a dog to slog their way through life despite fear, anxiety or the normal caution any creature should have in regards to unknown or dangerous situations.  I think flooding only creates learned helplessness.

Focus is static.  It puts the dog in a position and just asks the dog to hold that position.  That’s what I think it is to the dog.  The eye contact doesn’t mean that much to the dog in this instance.  I know eye contact becomes important to them in other circumstances (like waking me up in the morning), but for focus work, I think it’s just a stay in position like any other stay in position for the dog.  It’s also under the control of the human; the dog just does as asked.

Engagement and play as it is used in most cases is mindless movement. There is no purpose to the movement as you and the dog make the transition from training to trial and from ringside in inside the ring other than just the dog staying with the human and not really noticing the surroundings.  It’s a preplanned and trained series of movements.  No thinking involved for the dog.  With reactivity and with shy dogs, I do this all the time to get them from point A to point B without causing an emotional meltdown and eventually the dog learns that they don’t have to have that meltdown.  But it doesn’t actually handle the environment as triggers to emotional states.  Just keep the dog moving on a known path because they can’t multi task and this too is human control.

Gathering information is a third method of working with nervous dogs, reactive dogs, anxious and fearful dogs.  This gathering of information is called many things: LAT (look at that), DS (desensitization), and a few others.  What this method does is allows the dog to makes choices based on how much information it can gather before it gets overwhelmed and must withdraw.  With some methods of gathering information the human controls the reach and withdraw and in others, the dog is left to make those decisions. I actually like this way of handling triggers and emotional states in regards to circumstances and environments, but it takes many repetitions and in most cases, a lot of time; time which we don’t always have the luxury or energy to expend.

What Calm in Chaos (and nearly every other program I've created) does is teach the dog how to defuse triggers, how to gain information in new and novel situations; we teach the dog how to think for itself. Based on the dog’s potential and applied abilities, the dog chooses how to move through environments with the least amount of stress.  The human can help, but isn’t ultimately in control.  Both the human and the dog arrive at their destination calmly and in control of their emotional states and energy level and comfortable with the environment in a short space of time.