Updated: Feb 5
***Note: Please read the blog below for information on how Katie uses the area shown in these photos and videos; that low electric wire is NOT there for the dogs and is never "hot" when the dogs are present.
Strategic Use of Barn and Fencing - Katie S.:
Aspen is an adult male Maremma who used to be impatient and a bit competitive at feeding time. He likes his dinner and would eat quickly so that he could then go and eat his partner's dinner as well if he was lucky. Over the past few weeks, Katie S. has been working with an assortment of pups, as well as adult Aspen, to teach calm behavior around feeding.
I have written about this training journey before regarding these two 2021 buyers of my pups; blog links are included below. Both the Katies were novice handlers when they brought the first LGDs into their lives in 2021, but they sure aren't now! My goodness, they are trainers now!
Below is an update Katie S. shared with me a couple of days ago:
"Here's a cute update about the boys at feeding time :) Aspen now sits at his bowl and waits for food reinforcers. I didn't know it was called duration training! I guess the duration started to get so long that he'd rather sit and wait. So sweet! And then the other day, he just went ahead and laid down to wait.....such a change from where we started!"
Katie mentions "duration training" here because, in the last blog, I wrote about her training journey with her boys, and I identified it as such. Using shaping, Katie created the calm behavior you see in these photos.
She then attached a cue to this behavior: "Go eat."
She marks and reinforces the dogs for staying with their bowls; that is duration training. Using shaping, she has been able to increase the length of time each dog is willing to stay near his own bowl, even if the bowl is empty.
Katie has taught them that even an empty bowl has value because she will reinforce them just for staying near their bowl until she picks up the bowl and releases the dogs.
Her action of picking up the bowls is a very consistent environmental cue she has developed for the dogs. Watch this in action:
Notice that the pups stay near where the bowls were because they know Katie will come back and reinforce them in that area; she will not reinforce them near any other dog's bowl, even if the bowl is no longer there. She adds food to Aspen's bowl to increase the length of time he is willing to stay near his bowl. This little trick of hers is part of why Aspen is such a star at staying near his bowl.
Katie reinforces the pups far from Aspen, including with her back to him. This further establishes for him that he can simply enjoy his meal. He has learned to chew more slowly! This wasn't asked of him, but he has learned that he can afford to be leisurely and enjoy his dinner. This helps him in the "ask" of duration training.
"And there's also a photo of River that shows how relaxed he is about his bowl nowadays. With his front legs crossed and face in the bowl, with not a care in the world.
These guys bring me so much joy!"
Katie has worked purposefully for her success. I am very proud of her, and I hope reading about her process will inspire others to give this gift of training to their dogs.
Novice Trainers - The Katies
Raising Eevie & Banks - Feeding and Manners – Katie W. - Shaping https://www.bensonmaremmas.com/post/raising-eevie-banks-feeding-and-manners-katie-w-shaping
Feeding & Manners - Katie S. - Shaping, Blog #1 – Katie’s Story https://www.bensonmaremmas.com/post/feeding-manners-katie-s-shaping-blog-1-katie-s-story
Feeding & Manners - Katie S. - Shaping, Blog #2 – Katie’s Videos https://www.bensonmaremmas.com/post/feeding-manners-katie-s-shaping-blog-2-katie-s-videos
My Training of Benson Maremmas
Resource Guarding Is Not a Dirty Word https://www.bensonmaremmas.com/post/resource-guarding-is-not-a-dirty-word
Resource Guarding Is Not a Dirty Word #2- But What Do You Do If the Dog Is Really Awful??!! https://www.bensonmaremmas.com/post/resource-guarding-is-not-a-dirty-word-2-but-what-do-you-do-if-the-dog-is-really-awful
Teach Your LGDs That the Presence of a Food Bowl Equals Safety: Shaping & Cues - Annabel the Cow https://www.bensonmaremmas.com/post/teach-your-lgds-that-the-presence-of-a-food-bowl-equals-safety-shaping-cues-annabel-the-cow-4
Teach Your LGDs That the Presence of a Food Bowl Equals Safety: *Shaping & Cues* - Young Dogs https://www.bensonmaremmas.com/post/teach-your-lgds-that-the-presence-of-a-food-bowl-equals-safety-shaping-cues-young-dogs-5
Teach Your LGDs That the Presence of a Food Bowl Equals Safety: Shaping & Cues - Reminding Adult Dog https://www.bensonmaremmas.com/post/teach-your-lgds-that-the-presence-of-a-food-bowl-equals-safety-shaping-cues-reminding-adult-dog