I know Gimme needs a chiropractic adjustment and I've been trying for over a week to get in touch with Tonya with no response at all. So I've been wondering if this lack of focus has to with her need for a chiropractic adjustment. She has the warm spot and I was remembering how she sometimes gets her atlas really stuck and it gives her very bad headaches, so this may be behind her focus difficulties. I think the self-control issues are more typical of her false pregnancy. I've finally given up on Tonya and started looking for another option. I checked into vets locally and found one who does chiropractic, but she charges $125 for an assessment and then $65 for each visit.
There is a guy who comes to Pawsabilities every other Thursday, which is the day I go to see my Mom, so it works out for me and he charges $45 which is more reasonable. He has a devoted following. Of course he's not going to be there until the 24th and I didn't want to wait that long. So I am meeting him next Wednesday in Port Orchard (1 hr drive). I've also put us on the appointment schedule for the 24th in case she needs a tune-up, which sometimes happens if I can't get her treated when I first notice she needs it. We have barn hunt on Saturday, 3/26 and I want to make sure she is ready for all the jumping on and off the bales of straw.
So tonight I didn't want to push for really tight turns, just enough to have the behavior look like it was supposed to, showing she was working the behavior, without her mind wandering. Since I don't know how much her back might be bothering her, I didn't want to risk her experiencing pain to train.
I started with putting the largest box down and sent Gimme to it, click/treat. Then I inserted a behavior ahead of it (one of the circles "around" or "behind), then "box", click/treat. From there I added another behavior until we were doing a sequence of five behaviors for one click/treat. Sometimes the "box" was in the middle of the sequence, sometimes first and sometimes at the end. Other behaviors I added in the strings were, "spin" or "turn", "touch" and "sit". So this required her to really focus to know which behavior to do next.
This sequencing works on the principle of Tertiary Reinforcement. I explained Tertiary Reinforcement a long time ago (follow the link and go almost to the bottom of the blog entry). Its a cool concept and the dogs find it a fun game. Instead of clicking to reward a behavior, give the cue for the next behavior, which reinforces the behavior just completed. Do this several times and then add click/treat at the end. You could vary the number of behaviors in the sequence. Tonight I was doing sequences of five, such as:
- box, around, spin, sit, touch
- box, behind, turn, behind, sit
- behind, turn, box, around, spin
- around, touch, box, behind, sit
- touch, behind, turn, sit, box
Then we switched gears and worked with the next size box, just doing "box" between two boxes, the biggest and the next size down. She was having fun. When she was consistently doing it I removed the largest and replaced it with another of the next size (a second one I happened to get at Costco today). I rewarded her with multiple treats for staying in the boxes, so she'd understand to do it and stay there, building value for being in the box. At one point she got the box turned sideways and so was getting into it with the narrow side (making it smaller). It was a challenge for her, but she persevered and finally hopped her back feet in. She got a big jackpot for that. Then I turned it back the long way.
I'm not pushing for too small of a box footprint until after she gets adjusted. Gimme hasn't learned to crouch her butt down, which allows the back to get straighter. Instead she is curving her back and I don't want to put stress on an area which might be sore.
She did really well tonight and seemed to have a lot of fun at it. I think using the brain remedy I made for her helps and I think she enjoys being able to think clearly. She's sleeping soundly as we speak.