"All-Positive Monday 21" - Saga of the New Floor | Exploits of an Amateur Dog Trainer: Blog Edition

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"All-Positive Monday 21" - Saga of the New Floor

Well, Wally's world got thrown upside down a couple days ago. My mom (Wally's owner) changed her floor drastically, and it confused Wally completely. While he didn't get into full fearful mode, he was noticeably uncertain.

So much of the last few days has been spent getting him comfortable with the floor and showing him that nothing really changed in regards to him.

It also didn't help that she put some rocks along the entrances of the rooms and had me put down a new tile design on the floor. That added to things to get him used to. Fortunately, though, he's come a LONG way from the way he used to be, so this was not nearly as hard as it could have been.

Much of the training was playing lots of games and getting him to eat tidbits of food off the rocks and the bench on the side of the hall. I also wanted to get him to move eagerly along the hall so that he could understand that the floor tiles and such are still easy for him to move on. I think over time he will love the floor, since the more slippery linoleum is gone.

This was a case where "all-positive training" really works. It technically is not under operant conditioning, but more desensitization, part of classical conditioning (think Pavlov's dog).

The work was successful as now he's sniffing the rocks as he goes by, just in case there's some food there! We kept up with the having him walk on just his back paws as usual, and all his usual routines and jobs are still there, though the change in the floor color did create a screwing up with his keeping out of the kitchen behavior.

What happened is that "dividing line" to him was, in part, the change between the white linoleum flooring and the brown tile of the kitchen. Now the floor is brown and it looks too much like the kitchen tile, so it's a bit confusing for him at the moment. We'll have to reteach it, so he can pick up on another landmark.

In all, it wasn't hard, but it was something of a setback and something to deal with a bit.