Thursday, August 11, 2011
When I first met Noel I knew she was a special girl. The only word I can think of to describe her personality is ‘spunky’! She is full of life with her cute white line on her black face and floppy ears. Very sweet eyes but behind that sweetness there was some major ‘spunk’!
It was a tough winter when Noel was with us – lots of snow storms and inclement weather but that didn’t matter to Miss Spunky at all! She was out there with her short coat and high energy having a blast with all of the other dogs in the play yard. She always played hard but then would rest hard and enjoy the time she had outside of her kennel.
We put her in the Jumpy/Mouthy program because she was just that – jumping on everyone for attention and mouthing people to get them to play with her. She came on very strong which turned off most dogs and a lot of people, but she was headed in the right direction because the minute she saw the clicker and treat bag come out, she would sit and be as patient as her body would allow.
That is what I took advantage of with Noel – we’d play some retrieve with two tennis balls in the auditorium and then once she seemed tired enough, we’d do some basic training, and she would respond really well for two reasons I think; because she was tired and because she knew it was time to get down to training when the clicker came out of my pocket. The Jumpy/Mouthy program provides the structure an excited, jumpy/mouthy dog needs . It also provides the exercise needed for high energy dogs.
The program consists of the following items: Dog Play (with any dog friendly dog – mostly of the same energy level), Say Please (dog must sit for everything he wants in life), Retrieve Training (two tennis balls; if they lose interest you can increase their motivation by using two plush squeaky toys) where the dog will learn to 'drop it' when asked.
Noel responded to this training and seemed to really enjoy it. With consistent work by our behavior team, our staff and volunteers, Noel started sitting 'automatically' when the kennel door would open, she would sit before being asked when approaching an exit door and we were able to start teaching her to wait at the doors until we gave her the simple release command of 'ok'. It was amazing to see her transformation from a jumpy mouthy girl to a well behaved, well mannered girl.
Next, we brought the training outside of our training auditorium and into the front lobby where she was approached by several people and learned to control herself enough not to jump. I set up scenarios with staff and volunteers where I held Noel on a leash, people approached, and if she jumped up the person would walk away and ignore her. If she kept four feet on the floor or sat, she earned petting and attention from the visitor. Noel responded well to this training and learned that if she jumped on people, she didn’t get anything she wanted from them but if she sat and waited she would get attention, treats and lots of love.
Then Noel's lucky day came and a very special couple came in with their eyes on Noel! It was an instant connection. A few weeks later we followed up with them and they said they were having great success with Noel but needed some assistance with her high energy. I met with them and demonstrated the training I had done with her. They tried it for a few weeks and said it was helping tremendously! It was as if they just needed a refresher and they were able to go on their way. As an intermediate level trainer I feel the Jumpy Mouthy program is truly user friendly and will certainly help these high energy dogs become highly adoptable dogs!
-Laney MacDougall, Behavior Programs Supervisor, Center for Shelter Dogs