Monday, December 13, 2010

Gravity (and Cue Switching)

Jun has a gravity issue. There is a gravitational force that attracts her shoulder to my knee and makes it very difficult to work on anything that requires her being AWAY from me. Her back up is the place where this is most evident--we've worked on it in a variety of ways and every time, just as I think I'm making progress, gravity rears its sticky head again.

We made some good progress on the "accuracy" and "duration" elements of Jun's go-out. She was fine from 2-3 feet away. An inch more and the "accuracy" completely fell apart--it was as if she completely forgot that she was supposed to touch the piece of tape with her foot (or possible that she never knew in the first place and she was doing it accidentally before, but she was so consistent up close that I doubt that's the issue) or was so nervous about being AWAY that despite her best efforts, she just couldn't do it.

So we are now working on another "sending" exercise for the distance piece--going to a mat. We've worked on staying on a mat before, but never really worked the send piece much (see aforementioned gravity issues). I started working little by little on adding distance to the send with the criteria of "elbows on the mat," but was still running into trouble. I'm not sure if she didn't understand the criteria or if she was still just hesitant to get too far away from me, but the further I got from the mat, the more of her body was off of it. When she didn't get a click right away she would back up until her elbows were on the mat. I had hoped she might realize this was what I wanted and give it to me to begin with, but no luck. So I changed my criteria to one I thought would be easier for her to understand--standing up with all 4 feet on the mat. I worked that up close to make sure she understood the new criteria, and then gradually started adding distance. And . . . . she's getting it!! She was even offering back ups and staying back from me further than usual during the rest of our session last night. This could very well be another "Oh, she's got it!! . . . Aw, nope, she doesn't" moments, but I hope it isn't. She's never been so willing to be so far from me, so I think I've finally found something that makes sense to her.

Elo, on the other hand, does awesome at sending to a mat--he's not a cheater like Jun is! I was sending him around a corner with the mat out of sight last night and he was rocking it!

And a note-to-self on cue switching--you may need to keep using the old cue longer than you think. I could not figure out why Jun was responding so poorly to her new "bow" cue when clearly she "knew" it. After all, she had done it for me on cue multiple times!! She seemed confused, so I don't know why I couldn't accept that she was, in fact, confused, rather than avoiding or being stubborn. I went back to using the old cue immediately followed by the new cue for awhile. Then one rep with just the new cue, and right back to using both for several reps etc.  She is now much more confident and happy taking the new cue! I plan to still use the old and new cues together for awhile occasionally until she is confidently and happily doing the behavior every time I give her the new cue only.


  1. I really hope that the new mat work pans out! Have you ever done any work with a manners minder with her? I was just wondering if it would help since the treat is always away from you AND it's a really cool robot the dogs can fixate on :)

  2. Maybe if she has a robot to fixate on, she will leave me alone for half a second!! I have not tried the manners minder--I may need to check that out if my luck runs out with the mat work.