18 January 2009

Sound solution?

I think I have finally cracked the nut about Orkan's ear-splitting yells when he gets overly frustrated by extinction!

I sat down on the kitchen floor, like I usually do when shaping, and in an attempt to make sure I really didn't ever click when he's not silent, I tried something new. When it got too difficult in his opinion (failing two or three times in a row) and the reward seemed long gone, he broke into yelling like I expected. This time I closed my eyes and put my forhead on my knees. Every time he had a silent moment, I started counting to myself. I think it took about 10 minutes of yelling before he finally calmed down, lying quietly on the floor... I clicked, and kept working. Next time, it took a lot shorter before he calmed down. And after that, the yelling has been less frequent. I think we're on to something!

I think the big difference, and the genious thing about this, is that now he can actually see a physical change in me (going "dead", not able to contact me no matter how hard he tries) whenever he makes noise. I have used timeouts in the crate, but that only resulted in the puppy running to his crate whenever he got frustrated. I don't think I managed to get the message across about it being the yelling I didn't want. Waiting him out has been the only thing that worked, and it hasn't been very effective. He has learned that going quiet might get him a reward, but I don't think he has understood that he could just as well not have started to yell. The reward disappearing could in his opinion be because he didn't offer whatever sitting or something I wanted, not related to the yelling. Now we have a visible consequence of making noise, and the opportunity to earn a reward doesn't re-appear until he's actually calm!

I hope to be back in a few days with a video and a big smile :-)