Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Elo fun!

Elo is so much fun to free shape! Lok and Jun generally only "get" free shaping if there is an object around they are supposed to interact with. "101 things to do with a box" . . . no problem! "Show me something new" . . . both of them generally just sit and stare. As. Motionless. As. Possible. I've tried to play the "click anything and everything" game with them to encourage more offering of behaviors. But I run into a few problems. First, they get stuck in a rut of offering the same behavior over and over again. Second, the motionless staring, with the only movements made being unconscious things, like ear flicks, which they don't seem to associate with the clicks they get for them. Luckily I've found ways other than free shaping to teach them all their non-prop behaviors. But with Elo, I free shaped pretty much everything right from the beginning. Sit, down, stay, pick up objects, touch objects, all his tricks. Because of that, I think, Elo is awesome at offering behaviors and it's so much fun to do shaping with him! I'm working on shaping a "wave." In his first couple sessions, I concentrated on moving his front paws, since we've never done any front paw work. Then I focused on moving just his right paw. Then I worked on lifting that paw. Last night he was offering me a right paw lift to chest height, so we're halfway there! Fun!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Teach around the skill

We spent last weekend at a disc dog training camp with Pawsitive Vybe. Learned a few things and had a great time!

Jun did her very first flip this weekend. In two years of disc dogging she has never done a real flip, and suddenly she's decided to do it! (Kinda like what happened with her vaults--she wouldn't do them, then one day she just decided to.) I also asked Ron Watson to help me with Jun's backing up. I've been working on it lately and have not been able to get her to back up more than five or six feet. She stops and lays down and won't go any further. Ron had me work on backing up to a rear-foot target. Jun is loving this "new" game so far. I don't know why I never thought of that. Ron said something that really stuck in my mind : "When a skill is hard, don't teach the skill, teach around the skill." That's exactly what's going on with the back up. Rather than continuing to try to get a back up, I'm teaching around it. Jun's not backing up anymore--she's rear-foot targeting and the back up is just incidental. Very interesting stuff.

Elo had a big break-through this weekend! We've been working on the windshield wiper reactivity kind of sporadically, just here and there when I get a chance. On the way home from the seminar it started raining REALLY hard. I didn't have any treats. I didn't really have a way to restrain Elo. I held out as long as I could, but eventually HAD to use the wipers. I worked single-wipes for a little while, marking with a "yes" and rewarding with praise, which was all I had. Elo barely batted an eye. Then I finally had to turn them on high in order to see at all. I knew Elo wasn't ready for this. I grabbed his collar and just held him back. He was fine for a couple seconds, then started reacting, as I figured he would. He wasn't nearly as bad as he used to be though, and didn't redirect on me at all, and then . . . he stopped!! He chilled, laid back down, and was FINE!! Totally fine. So I guess my work there has paid off! One trigger down, six gazillion to go. We worked some reactive dog stuff at the seminar that I am going to continue to try to implement.

What am I going to do with Lok? His newest thing: turning and walking in the other direction when I call him. (His recall used to be PERFECT.) Refusing to lie down. Basically, just generally tuning me out anytime I'm not throwing a toy for him. I get frustrated and correct him, even though I know it's not helping any. No idea what to do with this one.