February 23, 2010

Through The Looking Glass

As you know, Ruby has a thing for the critters. So we've been working on getting her accustomed to seeing other animals and learning how to control herself when she's around them.

We stopped into PetSmart expecting to encounter a dog or two walking around, but a different kind of training opportunity presented itself – a doggie daycare was in session. It was a huge group and I saw them a split second before Ruby did.

Immediately she scrambled,

then, yep. She lunged.

But I was able to get her attention and put her in a sit fairly quickly.

When I was pretty confident that she was relaxed, I walked her to the other side of the bench where all the action was. She was excellent. She just sat and watched. Calm, cool, collected.

Hey, doesn't that look kind of like the Puppy Bowl in there? Oh! that reminds me...did you notice there was a Kiva in the Puppy Bowl? A cute little Alaskan Malamute! That's the first other Kiva we've ever come across!

So...dogs behind glass, check. But how about birds? I got the sinking feeling it would be like taking her to the Automat.

Wrong! She was interested but very calm. Cats?

It was a pretty intense staring contest. Ruby lost. Fish?

We couldn't even get her to notice them. She was far too busy flirting with her daddy. So cute. And Ruby is too.

Good outing all around! Although, it did end on a bittersweet note. We thought we spied an old friend down the aisle, but alas, no cheap hussy duck could ever capture the elegance of you-know-who.

Edit: Sierra Rose asked a great question in the comments. How did I draw Ruby's attention at the doggie care area?

In this case, despite the distraction, Ruby responded to my voice when I asked her to sit, then I treated her. We were both surprised by the dogs, so she had a couple seconds to react, but I'm calm and I don't repeat SIT! SIT! SIT! When I did ask her to sit, she sat right where she was and turned her head to look me in the eye. This is big progress for her, she can be like a bucking bronco around other dogs. My goal is a calm initial reaction; we're not quite there yet but we're working on it. :)

If she hadn't responded to me, I would have turned around and walked her away a few steps so she could compose herself. We don't proceed toward the thing she wants until she is calm and collected. If she makes a run for it again, we walk away again. If it takes a few tries, that's ok. Eventually she learns that pulling gets her farther from the thing she wants, not closer.

As far as the eye contact, I always want it. We practiced that quite a bit when she was tiny (and still do), so it's very natural now for her to check in with me frequently as we're walking or after I give a command.


bowsnhearts said...

Doggy day care!! I have never come across a doggy day care before...no wonder Ruby was so excited! I would be as well! She's more well behaved than me! I would probably go really crazy!

LOL at the staring competition between Ruby and the cat!

Sierra Rose said...

Woo! So many pals to check out! I would be going NUTS in there! Mom would love to know how you drew Ruby's attention back to you at the doggie care area.....(as I seem to be mostly motivated by high value treats, but wondering if you are just asking for eye contact....!?!?!)
Great work Ruby!

Hugs and snaggle-tooth kisses,
Sierra Rose

Carly Findlay said...

looks like Ruby was a good puppy today.

pity you didn't catch chicken in a bikini again!!

The OP Pack said...

Ruvy, you are doing so well - Mom must be so proud of you. We have never been to Petsmart but sure looks like they have lots of interesting things there. Hey, we have that bikini babe here too.

Woos, Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

Kari in WeHo said...

It looks like she is learning lots about distractions!

Khyra The Siberian Husky And Sometimes Her Mom said...

It looks like she wanted to meet The Eskie!

Of khourse, birdies and khytties are favourites too!

PeeEssWoo: The Puppy Bowl Mal was soooo freakin' adorable and yes the name was furry special!

Norma said...

Ruby did an awesome job. You just have to remain calm and try to anticipate situations before they happen.

I saw an armadillo outside my window today. Perfect time for some training. I put Taz at heel and walked him outside until he saw the creature. He perked up and check back with me to see if I would let him run after it. He should not be chasing these guys so I just made him sit and gave him praise.

Similar to what you did. Great training.

Clive said...


What a totally brillant job with did - some many distractions around you and coped so well!

Well done to you!

take care
Clive and the NSLM

Erin and GuidePupPompei said...

Good Job Rubies!! :))

*misskitty* said...

Hi Ruby (and mom)! I have been reading your blog for quite a while now and it is by far my all time favourite. It never fails to put a smile on my face. Ruby is so lucky to have such a dedicated mom (and rest of the family) in teaching her all the things she has to learn before going on to her new life! She is growing up so quickly - the photos of her enjoying all her new experiences are absolutely beautiful! Casey xo

Farley said...

What an excellent place for Ruby to practice! (Not to mention get reacquainted with the chicken in a bikini). I love the pictures of her checking out the other animals.

AVCr8teur said...

What a treat! A trip to the pet store. Looks like Ruby was well-behaved even with so many enticing toys around.