Saturday, October 10, 2009

Educating Ellie

Ellie is a three year old rescued German Shepherd who doesn't seem to have had any formal dog training. I will be tracking our education progress and posting highlights here.

My initial evaluation of Ellie was that she was intelligent and kind, and she took easily to the clicker 'loading'. She also jumps on people, clambers on furniture, chases cats, and pulls hard on the leash, and indicates a very strong prey drive so we have some behaviors to remove, replace, and redirect.

Funny how, once I got home, her interest in food as reward virtually went away. She does like the click, and responds well to positive verbal praise, so I offer the treat with praise ("Good girl", "Good Job", "Thank You"). She takes her treat about 30% of the time, turned her nose up at cooked chicken, and doesn't know what to do with dog biscuits.

Physical touch with Ellie is interesting. She's clever at gently deflecting head touching, accepts body handling and brushing, but seems to have mixed feelings about being touched. This is going to be a rich area to explore with her. She does love to have her chest scratched.

And, she loves her ball. She invents games with the ball, so I suspect she spent a lot of time on her own without much physical interaction with her humans, and devised ways to keep herself happy and amused. We've already begun a gentle game of give and take, and she loves that.

We've already made some excellent progress towards loose leash walking. I do some 'racetracking' with her and once she settles into a pace where she isn't pulling, I switch to many clicks and rewards. She will accept her treats probably 80/20 while walking. From 100% pull to about 60/40 now, so she's learning fast!

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