So here we are, step 2 in training Mattie to wear a muzzle for our trip to Venice. If you’re joining us for the first time, you can catch up with step one. Short recap as to why I am training my sweet dog to wear a muzzle, is that it is required for her to wear a muzzle while on public transportation in Venice.
The video begins with a short refresher from yesterday. All I wanted from Mattie was to touch the muzzle with her nose and I clicked and rewarded her. When that was finished, I wasn’t sure exactly how to get to the next step in getting her nose in the muzzle. I began by actually using my hands and guiding her into the muzzle. What I was looking for was her not to fight me on it, but rather to keep her head still and allow me to slide the muzzle on. After three times of doing it that way, I switched to a better method. I placed a piece of food in the palm of my hand, underneath the muzzle. I then presented the muzzle again and she slid her nose right in. Success! A much better approach. I did this for a few more times. You’ll begin to see Mattie kind of break from the routine which is my first signal of “be careful, she could be getting bored”, so I needed to make sure to speed things up and find moments to reinforce her strongly. It was clear that she did much better about getting her head into the muzzle when she was laying down instead of standing up. You’ll notice there were a few times that I would take away the muzzle and then present it once more. This is called creating a window of opportunity. I made the mistake in the video of leaving the muzzle in front of her after successfully placing her nose into it, which caused her to not repeat the behavior again. This was my fault. I was supposed to take the muzzle away and then present it again. I do this every time it appeared she “forgot” what was being asked of her. It’s like having a very brief pause and reboot. As far as I’m concerned, her training is going extremely well. Tomorrow will be a bit different. I’ll have to be more hands on with her and begin holding the muzzle in place for just a second or two.
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