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 Chronicles of Kairo: Cat Chasing

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Female Join date : 2016-09-04
Location : Myrtle Beach

PostSubject: Chronicles of Kairo: Cat Chasing   Mon Sep 19, 2016 7:59 pm

So I had some people interested in how I am handling cat chasing for Kairo. I decided it deserved it's own thread that perhaps someone could use as a reference when needed.

First, allow me to define how I handle "Leave It", as I may be considered untraditional.

My Methods
Step 1: Just like most, I work on "Leave It"'s most basic meaning - "NOT THAT (until I say so)!" So I train the most traditional leave it possible with a treat, but instead of high/low value, I do a take-it leave-it combo. This works for me in that I gain complete focus and control over the most high value possible - which will always filter down to low value desires by nature.

So I train "Leave It" with the highest value treat possible, waiting until the pup stops trying to get at it to give the "Take It" command and openly give the treat. I gradually lengthen the time until the pup is waiting politely to take it.

With both dogs I've trained on this, both will sit back and make eye contact the moment I say "Leave It", and one will wait politely for the "Take It" command. Kairo is still learning and can take a moment to accept the "Leave It" command, but the moment she accepts it she sits back and makes eye contact.

Once the Take-It-Leave-It game is pretty solid, I will start switching in things they will never "get" until the end of the session. So for Kairo, in a few days I will be using a lower-value toy with food. Food always trumps toy in her brain.

Step 2: I work on attention during walks by rewarding glances in my direction (during this training, I use no other commands - the entire walk is dedicated to attention only). During this time, I will pay close attention to  "problem areas" of unbreakable focus. For Ember, this was moving things (people, dogs, cats, etc). With Kairo, this is proving to be the last place we encountered a cat - she will try to thoroughly inspect the area like the cat will ALWAYS be there (here's a hint, Baby Girl.... they learn too!).

Once I have established these areas, I start working under threshold.  I will take the dog to the area, stopping at the very first instance of fixation, then take a few steps back. By crossing this invisible line, I've ensured that the dog noticed the area we were in and then removed them under threshhold, thus making certain two things:

1) Dog has interested in what I want them to leave
2) Dog is under threshold and willing to learn/turn attention to me

From this point, I stand still and give a firm "Leave It". The moment the dog looks at me, I give an enthusiastic "GOOD LEAVE IT!", lots of praise, and a single treat. Then I wait for the dog to notice the thing again.

If the dog does not notice the thing again, I will take a few steps forward, watching. The moment they notice, a few steps back, and "Leave It". Wait for eye contact, and "Good Leave It!".

After a few repetitions of this, I will remove us back the way we came and distract the dog with something new. Then, I will return to the area, watching for fixation. The moment the dog fixates, I stand my ground, and give a firm "Leave It". This time, as I didn't step back, I usually have to wait longer for the eye contact - in this case, when the dog looks away, I repeat "Leave It!" and have them look at me for a slightly longer time (instead of an immediate reward for looking at me).

From this position, the dog usually goes right back to staring at whatever it wants. I will let them for a few seconds, then say "Leave It". Again, I will repeat the command when they break attention from the thing to me, then wait out a few seconds, slowly lengthening the time as focus is returned to me.

Jackpots are given on quicker-than-normal attention changes. Even if it's just a half a second quicker than the last time, it gets a jackpot.

So, that is foundation for what you might find in this thread. What you will find below is an accounting of how this worked, or didn't, for Kairo the Fixation / Cat Chasing Master.
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Female Join date : 2016-09-04
Location : Myrtle Beach

PostSubject: Re: Chronicles of Kairo: Cat Chasing   Mon Sep 19, 2016 8:07 pm

Chapter 1
The Bush that Started It All

Today began Kairo's outdoor training on Leave It in connection with cat chasing. We have this one bush around the corner of a building where a startled kitten darted out dangerously close to us over a week ago, and to this day Kairo is convinced that that cat is always going to be in that bush.

Coincidentally, LOTS of cats hide in that bush, and it was the same one I used for Ember in her training. So, while most of the time the bush is empty due to dog-wise cats, every now and then we get a nice little testing scenario to boot with our training when there actually is a cat in there.

Today, Kairo's threshold was not even to the corner of the building - she ramped up extremely fast knowing that the bush was coming up, even though we couldn't see it. So We started out about 50 feet from the bush and out of sight of it.

Within about 5 minutes, I had Kairo's attention on "Leave It" almost immediately.

I only braved moving forward maybe 5 feet before rewarding with a jackpot and returning her home.

In all, it was a very good start. I wasn't expecting near-immediate attention right away, but it looks like our foundation work is paying off!

Ham cubes seem to be the key to this pup's heart...
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Female Join date : 2014-06-26
Location : west Texas

PostSubject: Re: Chronicles of Kairo: Cat Chasing   Tue Sep 20, 2016 1:36 am

Excellent thread Christina, clear and concise to help others. Smile Glad Kairo is getting the idea. Very Happy
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Female Join date : 2016-09-04
Location : Myrtle Beach

PostSubject: Re: Chronicles of Kairo: Cat Chasing   Tue Sep 20, 2016 10:17 am

I will admit its extremely rough. She gets so over-aroused if there is actually an animal to encounter that she will mid-yank suddenly reach over and rip up a mouthful of grass before going back to pulling, even after planting my feet. We will probably have to step way back and work on impulse control from the very beginning, including immediate change in direction completely.

The problem occurs with this set of circumstances, that happen incredibly often:
- Walking along, doing fine
- See a cat, intense pulling/yanking/wheezing occurs
- Change direction
- After a block, meet a dog - intense pulling/yanking/wheezing occurs
- Change direction
- We are now frantically looking for the cat again
- Change direction
- We are now frantically looking for the dog

By this point I just shorten the leash all the way to heel position and power-march home. I need to make a mental note that says "no more walks without food for the next week or more".
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Mark Grubbs
Mark Grubbs

Male Join date : 2016-01-10
Location : Long Island, NY

PostSubject: Re: Chronicles of Kairo: Cat Chasing   Thu Sep 22, 2016 8:48 am

Great thread! Zhukov lives with two cats and gets along with them just fine. I guess I should say that they tolerate him... for the most part he ignores them, and they ignore him, but sometimes they will cuddle with him, and sometimes he will chase them around the house till they get bored and let him know that play time is over.

As for walking, I really don't have a problem with him unless there is a squirrel. He is determined to add a squirrel to his toy collection.
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