Puppy Socialization Diaries – Day 7

Today, Cuba and I did most of our socialization work at home.  No new dogs or new people today!  :o(  That’s ok, tomorrow Cuba will meet his Aunt Stephanie and her lovely pit bull mix Yoshimi.  During the day, perhaps he, Mokie and I can make a trip to the nursing home down the street for a socialization visit, we’ll see!

New environments

Outside in light rain, thunderstorm – click and jackpot each time he heard a loud clap of thunder.  Conditioned Emotional Reponse (CER) established quickly, waggy tail and “hey, mom, didja hear that?  Where’s my treat?” each time he heard thunder.

New stimuli

Sounds of doors slamming

Sound of keys dropping on floor

Umbrella being opened

Umbrella being carried

Umbrella over my head

Umbrella over Jim’s head

Surround-sound scary movie!

Dress up party!  Mom wears wig, sunglasses, puffy coat, wraps up in blanket, cowgirl hat, baseball cap, shawl, high heels, big boots

New Husbandry

Ear flush – Cuba’s not a huge fan, must work on this in future training sessions

Review of brushing entire body – zoom groom, undercoat rake, furminator

Massage – especially around toes, ears, muzzle

Eye drops – practiced dropping clean, distilled water into his eyes

Bathtub desensitization – as a hopeful future conformation dog, Cuba will need to be well-acclimated to all kinds of grooming procedures, including bathing.  He’s not a huge fan of the tub, so we have been breaking exposure down into small parts and working on desensitization and counterconditioning.  Here are the desensitization steps I hope to follow:

Cuba gets in dry bathtub, gets food for short duration he is in there.  Gets out, is ignored until he is once again back in the tub receiving reinforcement.  Lots of reinforcement in the tub, no reinforcement outside of the tub.  Today we introduced a new treat, tuna fish, and worked before dinner when I knew he’d be hungry.  This turned out to be a good reinforcement decision – he loved the tuna fish and worked well for it in our session.

Cuba outside bathtub – water turned on from faucet.  Reinforcement delivered at 1:1 ratio (classical conditioning), regardless of Cuba’s behavior, while the water ran from faucet.  As soon as the water was turned off, tuna fish delivery was turned off.

Cuba outside bathtub – water turned on from shower head.  Repeat reinforcement protocol above.

Cuba inside bathtub – water turned on from faucet.

Cuba inside bathtub, water turned on from detached water head (spraying toward side of tub, not toward Cuba).

That’s as far as we got today, and he did wonderfully.  I wanted to end on a success, leaving him wanting more.  Since our earlier session, each time he is in the bathroom he looks hopefully toward the tub…”is it tuna fish time yet?”  Maybe tomorrow, if you’re lucky, young man!

New foods introduced

Tuna fish

First large cut of meat – Cuba got to chew on a pork shoulder for a while (in the bathtub!) this evening.  He really liked it!

New toys introduced

Leather work glove

Booda Squeaky Hedgehog

Large Premier Tennis Tail

Invincible Chains Triple Large Dog Toy

Nylabone Double Action Chew Dog Bone

Double tennis ball rope toy, similar to this one

Stuffed frozen Kong

I can’t seem to find a picture online of the Wubba I introduced today, it is one I won in a raffle at ClickerExpo in Lexington this past Spring.  This one actually has a Kong on the outside with the material threaded through the inside of the Kong.  Handle at the small end of the Kong, tassles with squeaker at the larger end.

Of all these, I think the tennis tail might have been his favorite today!

New Training

Bathtub desensitization

Started capturing when Cuba went into his crate on his own.  He began offering this more frequently, so I clicked him for sitting in his crate.  Began shaping for a lower head and forward movement of the front paws, got a few volunteered downs in the crate.  Maybe ready to add a cue for “kennel up” in the next couple of days.

Hand targeting

Name response – capturing eye contact and adding name as cue as well as classical conditioning name response

Began introducing whistle training for recall

Using a target to teach left and right spin, stand

Capturing play bows

Clicking for staying away from moving feet/skirts

Work on bite inhibition – taking treats gently, teaching puppy that human skin is very fragile!


A potty accident today – that’s what I get for trying to work when puppy sitting!  Tethered or crated at all times when in the house.  Accidents cleaned thoroughly with Nature’s Miracle.  All outside toileting clicked and treated.


Quiet puppy in crate!  Very minimal vocalization, relaxes within 15 – 30 seconds when he does vocalize.  Is going into his crate voluntarily frequently, lying down in his crate voluntarily for the first time today

Almost ready to add cues to sit, down, go settle on a mat, stand

He and Mokie are playing quite well together now for very short time periods (<45 seconds).  Mokie has been doing fantastically relaxing for reinforcement while I do training sessions with the puppy.  This is very hard for her, so I’m making sure to reinforce her generously for her patience and calm behavior.

Cuba definitely understands the behavior: click: treat relationship!

Nice progress in the tub today.

Very gentle mouth when taking treats.  He’s definitely teething, but is easily redirected to a toy or appropriate chew if he gets too mouthy.

Less skirt biting!

Nice progress on separation training – I can leave the room for a few minutes without any vocalization from crated Cuba.  :o)