Sunday, March 26, 2006

Training Kahlil

More Weekend Dog Blogging over at Sweetnicks later tonight

In the past Kahlil was good around chickens, but when I was laid up with pneumonia last spring and he wasn't getting enough exercise or work, he developed the bad habit of chasing the chickens. Chickens who are chased, freak out which just excites the prey drive of the dog who is chasing even more and reinforces the dog's bad behavior. Kahlil caught the white hen and managed to pin her down and pluck out lots of feathers, and dislocate or break her leg. The yard looked like a pillow fight had taken place that day there were so many feathers strewn about. I nursed the hen back to health, and except for a strange gait, she's none the worse. However I then knew Kahlil could not be left with chickens without some serious re-training. Recently, I've been having Kahlil work among the chickens with me inside on a lead. This seems to be easier that being outside. Inside both the hens and Kahlil remain calmer for some reason. He is not at all trustworthy yet so he is always on a lead, just in case. Below you can see he is among the chickens, and ignoring them while on a loose lead. All is going well, well enough that I took about 10 pictures.
The last picture in the series is below. I can not be sure if he is giving the black chicken in front of him the eye or just sniffing at the ground, looking for food. What happened next, happened kind of fast. I think the black hen on the right felt trapped and started flapping. It startled me. It startled Kahlil. As a reflex, I pulled back on the lead. His collar slipped over his head. The hen ran. Kahlil chased. I somehow caught Kahlil, despite him having no collar and slipped the collar back on, and took him out of the pen. The collar did not slip off accidentally. Kahlil has a small head and knows just how to slip out of a collar if the collar is not fastened tightly. Form my reading I know that a behavior can not be extinguished if it keeps happening and the behavior in itself is reinforcing. Today I also learned to make sure his collar is tight when trying this again. Ultimately the goal if for the chickens to freak and flap about and for Kahlil to remail calm and not chase. I may take a different approach. I may work on down/stay with all kinds of distractions, ultimately leading up to the distraction of flapping chickens. I believe he can ultimatly succeed. He loves to chase, but does NOT chase running children so I believe not chasing chickens is possible. Maybe eventually he'll help me learn how to be good at dog training.

1 comment:

  1. I find that flapping chickens are the hardest target species for training. Sheep are easier but pigs are the easiest. I'm glad to see Kahlil is taking his studies seriously and reading that book.