Monday, February 27, 2012

February Progress

So, I've heard of a recent study that showed that dogs trained only once a week progressed faster (measured in number of sessions to learn a behavior) than dogs trained every day. I sure hope that's true, cause I hardly trained at all this month. Despite that, we made some good progress on our February Goals.

First, I can happily say that The Professor is housetrained!! Well, as housetrained as a 6-month old puppy can reasonably be expected to be. He hasn't had an accident at home in a long time and has done well at friends' houses too. I can trust him alone in a room for short periods of time, which is awesome!

Elo accomplished his obedience goal pretty quickly. I can walk all the way around him in either direction from a variety of angles. We made a little progress on his handstand. I will have to get some video of where we are. He is doing pretty well with pulling himself up unassisted, but still braces his foot on the couch after he is up. He understands pulling his foot away from the couch, but usually is not in the right position to balance this way for more than half a second. Baby steps. We also kept working on his paw cross and now he is able to do it most of the time without starting with the target and we've started to work on stimulus control and getting him to discriminate the cue. I learned SO much while teaching him his paw cross. It was painful at times, but I'm glad I did it!

I am actually really surprised with how quickly Jun has caught on to her go-out. I can't seem to decide whether I want a paw or nose touch, so I still get (and reward) both. And sometimes I get, and reward, just getting really close to the wall--bad trainer! Although ultimately that's what I'd really like, if I can keep clear criteria for "really close." I can send her out to touch a duct-tape target on a variety of different walls in my house and at a training facility from 8-10 feet and she actually kind of hustles! She has even done pretty well touching the wall without a target. Behavior that involves going away from me has always been really challenging for Jun, but I think maybe we have finally been doing enough of it that it's getting easier. One thing she has recently started doing is going out crooked. She will kind of curve around to the target. I am not sure how to fix that without dampening enthusiasm, but maybe just go back to doing shorter go-outs, making her more likely to do it right, and then only reward the straight ones. We haven't added a sit yet, but we are working separately on the skill of "sit on recall" since ultimately that is what it will be.

Jun made no progress on her trick. I wasn't sure how to go about shaping it and she doesn't have enough endurance in a sit-pretty for me to play around with it. I think for next month I will try to get a high-five in a sit pretty. That might be easier and get her to think about using her paws in that position.

We might have made some progress on Jun not freaking out when I sit down. I did work on it some and it seems to have gotten better. I took a classical conditioning approach and tossed Jun a treat every time I sat down. As I remained sitting, she only got treats if she was in a calm down. I also worked on shaping her to automatically go to a mat and lie down when I sat on the couch. Now, instead of whining and spinning every time I sit down, her eyes just get a little wider and she looks for her treat. And last night while I was sitting on the couch watching TV, this happened:


  1. yay go outs!! There are pros and cons to both the paw and nose touch so since she likes both just pick one :) I personally think "close" is just too grey to produce good results. Many trainers have used props such as wires and crap to fix the arching. I've always just shortened up the distance and focused on speed since the fastest line is a straight one.

    Does Jun know how to hold a toy in her paws already?

    Awesome with Elo!!!!

  2. I think I prefer a nose touch. I could see her crashing gates or getting freaked when they move with a paw touch. I think "close" is too gray also, but I am running into the problem of not being able to see (behind her, at a distance) whether her nose is actually making contact with the wall, so I'm guessing I'm reinforcing "close" inadvertently at least once in awhile. Any tips for making sure they make contact? Jun is a well-known cheater if she can get away with it.

    Jun doesn't know how to hold a toy. I think you had a tutorial on that awhile back?

  3. Well you just listed the cons of both the nose and paw touch :)

    Well no wonder she couldn't catch it from a beg! I don't have a tutorial but I was working on it with my boys several months ago. I started with it from a sit position and used a cane/bar/broom at first to teach the grabbing motion. Then sit and hold a toy, then beg and be handed a toy. But i failed. Lance can kinda hold a toy if balances it against his chest while begging. Vito has apparently learned to thump his chest like a gorilla :P

  4. I was trying to start with just shaping a paw touch to the toy in a sit pretty position, but she wasn't offering anything and couldn't hold the position long enough to really work on it. Starting from a sit makes a lot more sense!