Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Making an A$$ out of U and ME…

I know, it’s my fault- I forgot what happens when you make an assumption. Still, when I rolled out our new policy on not hurting each other, I thought it would be implied that they shouldn’t hurt The Leader either. Apparently not.  Now I am sporting a shiny new cut, compliments of The Pup.  (Progress though, she didn’t actually bite me, just nose bonked me so hard that my glasses somehow gashed my face.)

Oh well. Thanks for the feedback on the Safety Program, Pup. Duly noted, revisions are in the works.
Since I can’t recall the last time I actually discussed, you know, training in my training blog, I figured I had better throw down a record on what’s up with The Pup.

She continues to be a nerdy little Whiz Kid. I expect her to ask if she can join Mathletes or similar after school any day now.  School, by the way, is going very well; I’m really happy with the content in the e-course. (Though warning: if you do take such a class be prepared for classmates to wander off topic a lot.)  We’ve learned a ton and have gotten some great ideas to keep us busy foundation-wise.  LOTS of body awareness exercises- she has become as sure footed as a mountain goat.

I’ve learned a lot about how she learns too.  She is a very studious little girl (hence the nerd title) who relishes problem solving.  (Luring gets you nowhere with her.)  She catches on almost instantly but, unlike The Dog, is able to be reprogrammed later (probably because of all the shaping?) if need be. (You really just get one shot with The Dog…like with the Dogwalk.)  She is very methodical and thoughtful when first learning the behavior, but turns intense about it when she has it figured out.  To me this says she will be manageable learning equipment and handling and the speed factor will kick in when she understands to her satisfaction.  Meaning someday I will look back wistfully on these days when I had a prayer of keeping her out of a tunnel, etc so I had better embrace it while I have her attention!

Speaking of learning, I took a follow-up video for the e-course on her perch work. She was doing fairly well with the concept of circling the perch, but pretty klutzy and not grasping the idea of both directions at all.  We took a break, went back and voila! Latent Learning does its part. I thought I’d share since it’s really pretty interesting to see. Promise.  Dogs are so cool. Way better than babies.

Other than that, I’ve been trying to formulate a game plan for her running dogwalk. Knowing more now on how she learns and what she values, I can guess that the toy is not going to be the key to her understanding.  After hearing some thoughts from others that kind of back up my ideas I think I have the general direction to go in. 

We started on building value for a plank immediately at nine weeks.  I used food initially and a clicker for walking back and forth with all four feet on the whole length. We did all sorts of approach angles and she learned that she has to line herself up for a straight entry. She also was enforced only for exiting straight forward.  She does this regardless of where I am and what I am doing. 

Since then, we’d started on toy tosses. I liked that I could tell that the value building had really made a difference- even with my terrible tosses she was good about getting on and staying on.  It also gave me a chance to get familiar with her stride and learn about what it took to get her to gallop versus bounce (uh, yeah, terriers totally bounce).  It wasn’t feeling quite right though.

So I decided to go the way of targeting and use food. Thanks to the e-course, we’d already learned the value of a target and driving towards it.  I’ve been setting up the target about 15 feet out and having her run the plank to the reward. I’ve been clicking the stride I like best, and delivering extra treats for those (so, similar to a two toy method).  She is incredibly consistent now that we use food, so pretty much every time gets a click.  With this way, I can also get in a second rep on her way back.  The sessions just feel better; the toy added a lot of zaniness and I wasn’t sure she was getting The Point.  I can see the gears turning now though…

Someday I might get a Manners Minder. At this point, she’s yet to do anything that wouldn’t elicit a treat, so no point in the device to withhold reward yet.  Besides I see her being one of those dogs that you hear about that sits in front of the MM offering it behaviors, trying to make something happen…
The Pup also started on the cik/cap style turns last night. 5 minutes, one stick of cheese and she was offering multiple, full circles to the right. The left, not so much. We had this same issue on a left turn command and left circles on the perch. She is obviously right pawed- the left direction will take maybe two cheese sticks.

Let’s see… what else? Oh, the sink is clogged! There, now that’s everything, including the kitchen sink.

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