Sunday, March 2, 2014

Goals for Spartacus

Rehabilitating Spartacus has become something like a part-time job. A job we love! Something really clicked for us a few months ago, and we realized his behavior wasn't going to magically change overnight. Every day that we weren't working on training him with focus and commitment, Spartacus had the opportunity to continue practicing and perfecting his problem behaviors. His reactivity and insecurities were holding us all back from things we want to do together like going camping, having road trip adventures, and showing off our gorgeous dogs around town comfortably and safely. This afternoon we have our last Behavior Solutions training class for reactive dogs. Over the past eight weeks of consistent training, our optimism for Spartacus' future has sky-rocketed. As his owners, we have built up confidence realizing that our handling can make a big difference. We see that with our dedication, we can have a happier, more confident dog living a fulfilling life.

In order of importance, here are some behavior issues we still need to work on A LOT before we have a chilled out Spartacus. It's a lot of work, but we're committed to helping our dogs live the best lives they can. Delilah's goals are a separate post!

Leash Reactivity toward Dogs

  • Continue to learn more methods, read more books, and implement clicker training while avoiding punishment. 
  • At least 10 training walks a week in dog prone areas, working on attention, heeling, emergency exits, sit-stays and down-stays in public places.
  • At least 2 training sessions a week in high dog traffic places like dog park entrance and doggy daycare parking lot. Practice auto-watch using clicker.
  • Try to set Spartacus up for success 100% of the time, using distance as a tool to avoid going over threshold.
  • If instructor agrees to it, enroll Spartacus in 4 week CGC Prep course in May for further socialization and practice.
  • Goals: Pass other dogs on same sidewalk eventually. Pass CGC by end of 2014.

Recall and Off-Leash Attention

  • Develop an emergency bombproof recall by throwing a party whenever my dog comes to me. Use a new word that has a cheery ring to it like "zazoom!".
  • Start by practicing in house/private dog parks/yard. Increase distance slowly. Increase distractions over time. Seriously practice at least once a week.
  • Use hide and seek to make it fun.
  • Continue to build up our bond and trust with positive reinforcement training and games off leash.
  • Goal: Have Spartacus come 100% of the time when called in high distraction situations.

General Anxiety, Separation Anxiety, and Insecurity

  • Start working on Dr.Karen Overall's Relaxation Protocol using a mat and down stay position to make the mat a safe, happy place to relax.
  • Perfect "go to mat" command.
  • Teach some new tricks for confidence building.
  • If instructor allows it, try a dog sport eventually.
  • Goals: Staying calm when one of his parents disappears from site, especially in a public place, such as the supervised separation exercise in the CGC. Not to mention, more tail wagging and a less anxious disposition in all situations.

Guarding the House, Porch, and Car

  • Continue to do time-outs in the bathroom for barking in the house, every time. This seems to be working really well.
  • Practice counter-conditioning to dogs while in parked car at least once a week using clicker and auto watch. This can be done outside dog park, doggy daycare, veterinary office, etc.
  • As weather gets nicer, do leashed training sessions on the porch. Work on Relaxation Protocol, starting at odd hours and slowly working up to when people and dogs are passing. Also use clicker and work on counter conditioning to people and dogs passing. Practice at least twice a week.
  • Goals: No more barking in the car, house, or on the porch.

Jumping when Excited

  • Perfect the "go to mat" command when visitors are coming.
  • Consistently work on down-stays when Spartacus meets someone new who gets him all excited and wanting to hug.
  • Goal: No more jumping, ever!


  1. Great goals and good job breaking down the steps and methods to get there. Looking at the big picture or end result can be so daunting! It dawned on me recently how much Kaya & Norman know after I spent a couple days with my uncle's "puppy" (ie: untrained adult dog who acts like a puppy;)

    1. Thanks! My dad's dog Ollie is also a "puppy". She's super friendly and well socialized so he thinks he doesn't have to train her. When I tried to walk her she practically tore my arm off. We've got a lot of work ahead of us but it's become one of my favorite hobbies so it's all good!