Doodle Daze – A blog about a labradoodle

Hand feeding triumph!
April 18, 2012, 12:12 pm
Filed under: training | Tags: ,

I thought I’d post one of our successes of hand feeding plus our latest hand feeding project we have going. As you know from hearing/reading about our pup, Barney can be an anxious dog…when we got him he was fearful of almost anything. Working with Dima, doing hand feeding and patience has helped him a lot.

One thing we wanted to be able to do with him was give him a blow dry when he was wet after a walk. He wouldn’t even come near the thing at first, even when it was off. I used hand feeding around it, then had him touch it to get food, then hand fed him when it was on, etc. now he begs to get a blow dry whenever I use the hair dryer on me!

My current project is to get him okay with the hair razor as we’d like to cut off some of his excess hair when it gets warmer. I’m using the same techniques and he now spontaneously touches the razor if it’s on the floor. He’s still scared of it when it’s on, but he’ll get there. I just wanted to put this out there to show that what Dima talk about really works. Barney is a changed boy from when we got him almost 3 yrs ago from the rescue.  Hand feeding and positive reinforcement works!

I’ll be certain to get a video of Barney doing this soon and post it in the Barney Youtube Channel!


Training, Barney style
July 15, 2009, 7:56 am
Filed under: training | Tags: , , ,

Yesterday, for almost two hours,  Barney, Roy & me all worked with Dima, a dog trainer.  He came with several recommendations, one being a man who fosters dogs from Dogs Trust and another from Doodle Times.  Barney and we were nervous at first, of course, but as the time progressed, we grew to really enjoy and ‘get’ what was going on.

One of Dima’s major things to do is a lot of handfeeding to train the dogs to respond to hand signals as well as to let the dog know that the person who is giving them commands is wonderful.  The dog learns to associate positive reward from people and will respond happily to the commands given. 

Dima brought along a few of his dogs that are his or that he is fostering who he used to help with the training and to also demo a few things.  As we have a dog who goes a bit mad around other dogs, this was a great experience, though a nerve wracking one.  What Dima learned is that Barney just wants to sniff and play…but he goes about it in a rude manner.  So Barney got to see a few dogs working who were calm, did the right thing and listened.  And it helped. 

The first thing we did was work on the hand feeding aspect.  We hadn’t fed Barney any breakfast (usually a small meal anyway) and he hadn’t eaten much for dinner…so he was a bit hungry.  As he was anxious at first about this strange man being around, he wouldn’t eat anything…but as he relaxed, it got a lot better.  We had him following my hand, back and forth.  At first just a small distance and then shoulder length.  We got him to go around my body (go around) and do a twirl (twirl), though not perfectly.  But that was fine.  It was working more than I would have expected.

Next we looked at leads to see what would work with him.  A body harness seems to be what he reponds to most, but by the end of the session, Dima thought that Barney would do fine just on collar and lead in most situations. 

Then we moved onto a long lead.  Don’t need it too much in our smallish back garden, but Barney could still do some work on it, particularly stay & come.  He actually got to the point that we could make him sit, stay and we could enter the house and close the door & he’d still remain.  Yay Barney!!!  We worked on the walk – not worrying right now about doing a ‘heel’ but working on a loose lead.  It worked out quite well.

Finally we went and worked on his barking at other dogs or pulling at people thing.  Dima, having dogs who follow his every command, made it work wonderfully.  He kept moving Barney closer and closer to the other dog.  He started across the street, then on the same side of the street, then walking by him on the same side, then right next to him.  Barney got calmer and calmer.  And was finally allowed to ‘meet’ the other dog (who wasn’t a fan of this rude boy!).

And that was that.  Barney was EXHAUSTED.  Which was a good thing.

But for me, the best thing was…I took him on a walk this morning and it was almost easy.  No, he wasn’t even close to perfect, but I now felt I had the skills to work with him.  And he responded more often than not.  He walked on a loose lead quite a lot.  Now we just need a long lead to let him have a bit more freedom in our local (and huge) park…until we feel we can let him off lead & he’ll listen.  That’s our long-term goal. 

I have to say, it was so wonderful to come home smiling.  And to do a few things with Barney before and after using the hand feeding method which worked.  YAY!!!