Tuesday, January 31, 2012

February Goals

Obedience: Start to work on a go-out.Continue to work on moving stand.
Trick: Catch a toy with her paws in a sit pretty
Behavior Mod: Not freaking out when I sit down

Obedience: Proof stand-stay so I can walk all the way around him
Trick: Grrr.... handstand I suppose

The Professor
Potty Training!!!!!!!!!

Monday, January 30, 2012

January Recap

Jun learned a trick!! Wait . . . make that THREE tricks!!

January turned out to be quite a good training month for us! We didn't accomplish everything I meant to, but we made some good progress on our goals.

Elo took the BA test. In his defense, he doesn't get to go places very often and hasn't really worked his skills anywhere other than the house. We did get one practice session in at a training facility. We forgot to practice the leave-it while walking and Elo did not even make it past the first three steps, where two balls were placed at either side of the path. I could not even get his attention as he ping-ponged back and forth between them. Oops! The rest of the test, he did fairly well at. He was a bit distracted for LLW, he had trouble with waiting at the door, but the rest of the tasks he performed brilliantly! We will try again another day!

Elo made some good progress on his back-up. I shaped it up to 10 steps in a row and started putting a cue on it. The video below wasn't his best backing up day, but I only had one shot to video, so there ya go. Cross paws is actually coming along! What ended up working for us was moving the target farther and farther away. He will now offer the cross without the target there, as long as we start the session with the target. I think this may be the most work I have ever put into a trick that didn't involve multiple steps, but now that we've gotten this far, I'm determined to finish it! I think it may be a long time before I attempt crossing the other way though.

Nails . . . when will I learn that there is no point to putting a "number of days per week" that I will work on a goal? Five days a week didn't happen. I did about twice a week, and he is still letting me clip 4-5ish nails per session, though not terribly happy about it. Oh well, I don't need happy, I just need willing I guess. That's on the video too, with some interference from Jun who LOVES getting her nails clipped (or at least the peanut butter that goes along with it).

Jun decided to be a little genius this month! We got bored in reactive dog class, so I shaped her to figure-8 around two cones. We got up to two 8s. I think that's good enough. I'm not going to put a cue on it or anything. Jun also learned to balance a treat on her nose, and we finally got her bow on cue!! Three tricks in one month, I think that's more than we were able to finish in the past year!

Scent articles? Nope. Didn't do them. Ok, I did them twice and since we hadn't done them in so long, Jun stopped sniffing and just started grabbing again. We'll try this again when I can get up the motivation to do it every day. There's just so many props, I hate it. We did work the directed retrieve in a couple different locations with different articles. She's doing really well with this skill and I'm not sure what else to do with it, so we'll give that a rest for now.

February goals coming up next!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Targets are not Cues

Or at least, that is the conclusion I have come to. Elo's cross paws trick is . . . sigh. This is why I never use targets. He is brilliant with the target there. I first tried to fade it by imagining the target was a cue and using cue-switching protocol, i.e., cue "cross" wait a couple seconds, then present the target. This was a decided failure. Elo now thinks the cue "cross" means "your target will be presented in a couple seconds" and does nothing but wait, or stomp his paw randomly if I make him wait too long. So I went to the "gradually make the target smaller" strategy with duct tape. We can get down to a 1cm target, and the behavior falls apart after that. I don't think Elo gets the "crossing" part of the behavior at all. If he slides over too far so the target is not in position anymore, he will just hit it with any old paw. So then I thought, well, he's done so many hundreds of repetitions of this behavior, the muscle memory has got to be there by now. I'll just wait for him to offer it. He has never once offered it. And the fact that I couldn't shape it was how we ended up in this targeting mess to begin with. I've tried clicking right before he hits the target, instead of when he hits the target, hoping he would start to understand that it was the crossing movement I was looking for. No dice. Training a simple behavior should NOT be this difficult. So . . . I am open to suggestions. Otherwise I think I'll keep working on the "making the target smaller" strategy. Maybe if I can get him working on a target that is a tiny speck I'll be able to take it away and still get the behavior.

Jun's goals are going ok. Her balance trick is coming along now that I finally decided what my criteria are. Scent articles and directed retrieves, not so much. I've decided I hate working on these skills. It's the resetting/sit in heel between. Jun hates it so I hate it. So we dispensed with the resetting and we're just working the skills informally. It's better, but I still have a negative CER to the whole exercise. She's actually improved quite a bit on the directed retrieve after I put a new cue on it. I hope it's allowed in competition. I'm sending her with a touch cue on her flank. The hand signal I was using was very confusing to her, since she had to look back at me for it after she had marked the article I wanted and often that resulted in her trying to take a different article. And I'd stop her, and she would get confused and shut down. So instead, we started practicing just marking and driving to the article, using a toy straight in front of her. We used some opposition-reflex, holding her back, to get some speed and enthusiasm. I put my hand to the side of her head to encourage her to focus straight in front and send her with a tap when she is looking in the right direction. It's been working out fabulously! And now I am bored with it. I need to practice in a bigger space. Maybe I will practice in the basement with frisbees tonight, since the yard is too icy to play outside.

Quick Professor Update
Such a great puppy! I just love him! Too bad the dogs don't feel the same. I feel bad that he has to be in the bathroom or crated basically 23 hours a day. But luckily he sleeps a lot so I don't think he minds too much. I've never had a dog who likes to sleep in before. I get up at 5 to work out and have been late, cause I have to cheerlead Prof out of his crate. He would sleep until 11 if I let him! Training is going ok. I have figured out that if I am doing an actual training session with food he knows I have, I have to keep it super short, especially if I am asking for control behaviors. He just gets so crazy around food. With the food bowl out, we have gotten a 4-second sit, barely. But I can spring a random sit on him with no food and we have gotten to 7 seconds! I have started working on his vibrating collar, just trying to associate the vibration with food. So far no indication that he is catching on despite about 50 reps last night, but he takes awhile to catch on to things, so I'm not worried. I am thinking about experimenting with using it as a marker. See if he can understand that concept. Training possibilities would explode!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Meet the Professor!

Say hello to my new foster/training project! This is The Professor! Terrible name, but I refuse to change it--dogs whose name I change seem to end up staying for good, and besides, he can't hear it anyway! He's deaf and partially blind. At least, that's what I was told. In reality, I think his vision and hearing are just fine, but his brain doesn't process things right. He has some pretty clear brain damage--the effects are similar to Helen (a short-term foster from this summer) but MUCH more mild!

He's been here for almost a week now. Training him has been interesting to say the least! It is a work in patience, for sure. I feel this is much like training an invertebrate would be. He learns, that's for sure--but I'm not sure how! He doesn't seem to think much during training. He caught on to a hand touch within 5 seconds, but I think that is just instinctual. The hand might have food in it! I planned to teach him a sit, but we have some MAJOR impulse control issues around food and it wasn't happening. So I taught him a spin instead. He learned this pretty well, but it's still lured--just an extension of his hand target behavior. Which is fine. He won't respond to a verbal cue (see: the deaf/brain damaged thing). As long as he can DO the spin, that is all he needs. He compulsively circles and spins to the left, so if his new home works on spin right most days that should help balance out his muscle development.

Ah, impulse control. Not only is he insane about food, but he compulsively paces, circles, and spins. He knows (I think he hears) when I open the food container and starts throwing a fit--from a different room, behind closed doors!! Our first real training session I had to keep him moving with touches and spins, or else he was barking. Sit has been out of the question. We've been slowing working on it. He is slowly improving. We actually have a sit now! For a few days I had to lure his nose with food while pressing on his butt so he couldn't jump up or back up. Then a light touch on his butt with the food in front of his nose. Now sometimes he will sit with just the light touch and no food lure. I still have to shovel the food in his mouth FAST or he gets up. I still am not convinced he knows what he's doing or is making any conscious effort to learn, but he's clearly learning, so . . . . Of course any time he offers a sit (I use "offer" loosely, really he just happens to sit) or standing nicely and quietly he gets rewarded.

We are also working on yielding to collar pressure, walking nicely on a leash, hanging out nicely while tethered to me. Oh, and potty training (ugh).

Other than that, he's a fabulous puppy! Mellow, happy, playful (too playful--my dogs hate him). Here is his blog! Please share it and lets find this little guy a home of his own!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

January Goals

I am feeling a little bit uninspired again lately, and I am thinking it might be a good idea to do monthly goals. So Here are January's:

At the end of the month Elo will have the opportunity to test for his C.L.A.S.S. BA, so we should probably brush up on some of the necessary skills. Elo's boundary cue is good, but we have never worked on threshold manners outside the house, so waiting at the door will be one we need to work on. (Actually, the out-of-the-house part is going to be the biggest challenge for all of it, since being highly reactive Elo rarely gets the chance to work in public!) The recall will be no problem, but we have not worked on sitting for leashing up, so we will need to work that skill. The meet and greet will be another one we need to practice. Elo has never learned to sit for greeting. I don't expect it to be a problem, just something I will need to teach him. The rest of the items we should have down pretty well, but we will practice them just to be sure. Jun is not ready for the "stranger" part of the test yet, but I may practice some of these things with her anyway.

My other goals for Elo this month will be: 1) get his back up on cue and work it in front, heel and side. 2) finish his cross paws trick, and 3) work on his nails 5 days a week.

Jun will work on her scent articles and directed retrieves. And a trick. I just have to decide which one.

For both dogs, I want to work on body handling. Neither is particularly uncomfortable with body handling, but I'd like to get them both to where they can lie quietly on their side or stand still and accept all types of handling. I got a clipper for Christmas for the mats that Jun's fur tends to get, and I'd like her to be able to stand or lie nicely while I clip them out. We'll see how that goes!