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Multi-Task Learning --Who Knew!

Today we're working on a few things

1) Quiet time with a chewy next to our neighbor. This can be really hard for our young pups. There is so much life to explore and we do want that. We also want to teach our pups the importance of being calm -- life isn't always go-go-go. For some dogs this actually takes practice. One of the ways we work on it here is by using chewy things. These can be things that are stuffed and refrigerated or chewable toys with a yummy spread on them. The point is the puppy should have to and want to work at it.

Since we have more than one dog in our home we also like to practice from an early age the ability to enjoy their chewy safely next to their neighbor. I do not expect my dogs to eat out of the same food bowls, but I do expect them to be polite and respect the space of others. Jaffa is the older puppy here she is roughly 4 months old. Daisy (previously called Ms. Yellow) is just over 9 weeks old. The x-pen creates separate areas for them both. They are puppies and we want them to be able to make good choices on their own. The barrier helps them do that.

2) Our designated area in the kitchen & how marvelous that area can be! We allow our dogs into a part of our kitchen. They are not; however, allowed in what I call the "cooking triangle". This is the stove, fridge, sink area. That is where most if not all our food prep happens and for us, dogs just do not have a reason to be in there. But we are talking about Great Danes here! They want to be with their people. So we compromise by teaching them where they CAN be while food prep is happening.

Their area has a comfy, but not too obnoxiously large, bed. Whenever they are on their kitchen place, food may miraculously fall from the sky without notice. Sometimes while one doggy parent is cooking and downloading about their day the other parent spends that time giving a doggy massage, of course only on the kitchen place. Then there's CHEWY time. That also happens on the kitchen place. Like crate training only good, no GREAT things happen here.

3) "Happy-Trade-Outs" for the highly prized chewy. Something not captured in the picture.

Let me say that Resource Guarding is natural. If you lock your doors, you also resource guard. The first time we gave the pups their chewy, Daisy took hers and ran into the whelping room to eat it. This is very normal for a 9-week-old puppy with another larger puppy/dog just a few feet from her. Think of it this way. If she were in the wild that bigger animal could just take what she had. Then ultimately, she may not survive. So moving away was not a bad thing, but it did create an opportunity for me to change how Daisy felt about her resource and the possibility of sharing it.

To do this I got something of higher value than what she currently had. In this case it was about an inch piece of string cheese. I went in to where Daisy was. Back & forth I would ask "Can I have that" while at the same time offering her my something better. As soon as she took my offering, I traded it for her chewy. Then immediately I would say "Thank you" & give her back her original chewy.

We did this 6-7x. The point with Daisy was to create a positive emotional response when someone tried to reach for or comes in the vicinity of what she considered a resource. There was no correction going on here. We are changing how she FEELS about it. By the 3rd offering Daisy was looking expectantly for what I was willing to trade almost dropping the chewy for me. PERFECT!

The picture of the two pups was taken the second time we were working on these things. You can see how comfortable Daisy is now. It has been 6 days since we started working on these things. Both pups, Daisy too) now run to their little beds and look expectantly for whatever amazing thing may happen there!


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