Livestock Guardian Dog Issue – Re-Training A Behaviour

As I was preparing to record a video on grooming Ira’s ear hair I found that Ira was concerned with something. This is fairly normal for livestock guardian breeds. They were bred to be wary of new things. This helps them protect their flocks.

We had changed the arrangement of our bathtub area to fit in a freezer. We just changed the DIY tub from one side of the space to the other – about 5 feet.

This change confused Ira and he couldn’t, or wouldn’t get into the tub in this new location. So we had to re-train. It didn’t really take long, but it was a little frustrating that something that he used to do without thinking, he was now re-thinking.

When dogs refuse to do something, they have a good reason. Us humans feel that because WE know what is happening, our dogs should too. This is where we can learn patience. Impatience is a bad habit that humans have somehow acquired.

What I Did

When I realized that Ira was not going to get in the tub right away, my first reaction was frustration at the extra time that I would have to put in to work on this. But, since this is not how I want to be when I’m with my dogs, as frustration is completely about me and MY schedule, I immediately changed my outlook and used it as a neat training opportunity.

I was thinking that maybe Ira’s refusal to go in the tub was due to my inept training ability.

Instead, I snapped out of it and started to train him to get in the tub again. Using cut up beef meatballs, I shape/lured him into the tub. I could see that having him figure out how to get the food himself, rather than continually luring him was working better and would have the better result in the end.

At the beginning of the session I could tell that he was quite uncomfortable with this new tub  arrangement. He even tried to get the food at the back of the tub by stretching over the side of the tub!

Repetition worked. I used a low table to assist him in the same as we trained it originally from puppyhood.

In the video you can see how hesitant he is to get in the tub. Watching this again, I can laugh at my commentary of what he is thinking!

How we expect so much from our dogs!


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