When Zoey finally noticed the hamster, she noticed it in a big way. Every time he came to the front of his cage (which I had, unfortunately, trained him to do) she would get ecstatically happy…she would play bow, wag her tail to a blur, then proceed to air snap the poor thing in an attempt to get him to play.
Thankfully, as soon as the little guy came to us, I started feeding him treats whenever the dogs were nearby. So he is in no way scared of them being close, their barking etc.
Zoey was really starting to bug me though. Any time Prim (hamster) poked his little head up, she would leap from the couch and obsess over him. As soon as I sent her away, she would be back at a different angle! I could have just moved Prim’s cage, sure. And management is a very valid option. Buuut, I like being able to see Prim from where I’m sat, to reward / train him easily and I couldn’t figure out where else to put him. So I opted to work with Zoey and her reaction to the hamster.
This was remarkably easy. All I did was teach her a cue, “Where’s the hamster?”, and marked when she looked into the cage. She then came to me for a treat. As we progressed, Zoey started simply looking at the cage, then turning to me for a treat…that’s not what I wanted, I want her to get as close as possible to Prim – not just the cage – and be calm.
So I waited her out, and as soon as she moved close to Prim I marked and rewarded her. Now she can find him, hold her nose to him, and wait a few seconds until I say “yes!”
Photo evidence 😉 (special thanks to my partner for taking the photo!)
See Prim, right by her nose? And yes, he is waiting for a treat too!
Now when Zoey sees the hamster, she goes and touches her nose to him, then turns for a reward. Perfect!
I’m also working on recall with Prim. He’s (slowly) learning to follow my voice when I call his name repeatedly. He will sprint to the front of the cage and get a treat…to say he’s not the smartest button in the box, he’s doing well!
(Please note: neither dog is ever left alone in the room with Prim, even when he is in his cage. When we handle Prim, the dogs are in their crates in a separate room)
I also got my all-time favourite photo of Zoey in training. I gave her NO vocal requirements for this photo, I didn’t ask her to do a thing. I just held a treat out, and she did the rest. She didn’t go for the treat but, even yet, she offered me eye contact!! *happy dance*
Sooo glad I had my camera!!
And some non-training photos…Zoey managing to look utterly adorable (how can anything be that cute?!). This is what I get when I pick up my camera, Zoey’s “please take photos of meeee” face XD
Hehe, love her whiskers!
And here’s both dogs being lazy. Kasper is mildly interested
Nah, he doesn’t actually care…
Look at Zoey in the background! ❤