“Don’t Touch”

Lacey has been making excellent progress with the basic commands of “sit” and “down”.  We are still working on her recall, but she is focusing much better and responding very well to guidance from the leash. Being a puppy, she is naturally distracted by new sights, sounds, and smells… and, by Violet the cat, who insists on inviting herself to every training session.

Lacey spent the previous weekend with her forever family. My client had a concern about Lacey’s behavior around food: not only is she trying to get to the table to get food, but she is also trying to take food away from her human child. This is unacceptable, so yesterday, I began teaching Lacey “don’t touch”.

The lesson began at our supper time.  I put my supper on a plate, and then I sat on the floor, where Lacey would be able to reach the food.  The second she got close to the plate, I gave a calm but quick “tsht!” sound and snapped my fingers. Lacey moved away from the plate and was immediately rewarded for the behavior.

The lesson continued for several minutes. The plate was gradually placed closer and closer to Lacey, until it was almost right under her nose. Each time she lowered her head, I made the “tsht” sound and the finger-snap; each time, she immediately moved away from the food. After several minutes of this, Lacey began to show disinterest towards the food. At that point, she was rewarded with pets and “good girl!” and the exercise was ended.

When my client arrived for the evening’s training session, I repeated the exercise so that she could see for herself how Lacey responded.  The plate had turkey-breast meat on it – a very high-value food reward. As I took Lacey through the exercise, I changed it up to include food being dropped on the floor. Each aspect of this exercise was presented with the “don’t touch” command, and followed through with the “tsht” sound and finger-snap if Lacey tried to go to the food.  Lacey did a fantastic job of staying away from it.  Occasionally, she was rewarded with small pieces of the food she was being asked not to touch.

Today, we are going to continue working on the “don’t touch” command, as well as doing recall work, reinforcing the “sit” and “lay down” commands, and working more on the “stay” command.  Lacey is trying to learn how to hold her position (“stay”), and it’s very challenging for her because Violet is continually distracting or trying to distract her.

As a side note, attempts to video these training sessions with Lacey have repeatedly failed, which is why no video has been provided as yet.  For some reason, when Lacey sees the camera or hears it being turned on, she stops what she’s doing and she will not co-operate until the camera is no longer part of the equation.  She is not afraid of it; she just doesn’t like it.  Filming efforts will, however, continue, as they provide visual proof of her progress and my techniques.

Have a great day, and thanks for visiting.  Please feel free to comment your thoughts on this or any other post.

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