Monday, November 26, 2012

Thoughts on some trick training

Not that I have been doing much lately. But a little here and there.

Jun has been working on "limp" again. Picking up her paw was easy. The hardest part was getting her to lift her other paw off the ground at the same time. I finally got that by having her jump UP to a nose touch, and then working to a lower jump, then pulling it forwards. But how to get more than one step? I put her on a stay across the room, asked for a paw raise, used my best ESP, and somehow, miraculously, she got it and took one hop-step within just a few sessions. Then for awhile I got one hop-step every 2-3 sessions. Then it started getting more consistent. Then one day I got two!! And now, all I seem to get is her lifting her paw then putting it down and walking to me normally (which I have never clicked, not even by accident!!!) mixed in with the occasional clickable hop-step.

Seriously, I don't know what her deal is.  When I click Elo for something he keeps doing the thing he got clicked for (which admittedly sucks when I click the wrong thing, but that's my problem). I don't know why Jun insists on continuing to do behavior that is NOT earning a click.....Actually if I put on my dog-trainer-with-a-working-knowledge-of-learning-theory hat, I could probably figure it out. Part of the reason, maybe, is that being right-freaking-next-to me is more reinforcing than the food. And the non-clicked behavior gets her to me faster. I could maybe make more progress if I worked it in heel position. Alas, she can't see my paw-raise signal in heel position. I could train a new one, yes, but it is too damn hard to see whether her paw is up when she's next to me. I tried a mirror. She was VERY confused about why I wasn't looking at her and wouldn't do anything but try to go-out and target the mirror (which is pretty much the correct response on her part when presented with the situation of "heel position and me looking straight ahead" so, go Jun!). And if I just try to swivel my body around to see she takes it as a "stay in heel position at all costs" drill and does weird things. Oh well. I am about ready to put this trick away again for another year.

She did successfully learn a "pray" or "hide and go seek" behavior. Two variations. One in which I kneel on one leg and she puts her paws up on my thigh and her forehead between her paws. And one in which she does the same thing on the couch. I've also been trying to teach her to hold a sit-pretty while I walk in a circle around her. I hold her clicker-light out in front so she has something to focus on. But tonight it worked even better when I showed her a treat, put it on a table in front of her, and then did the same thing. Seemed to keep her attention forward just a bit better.

Elo is learning a bow. I spent the LONGEST time trying to shape it from scratch and didn't get very far. He's never play bowed spontaneously in real life. I think because of his missing leg it's just not a position he feels comfortable in. So after a gazillion sessions and a few method changes I had one front paw stretched out and a head-tucked hold for about 1.5 seconds. I couldn't get the other paw stretched out and if I withheld the click longer I either got backing up or scratching the rug (products of my stupid late clicks). So I put this one away for awhile. Then one day I realized, Elo DOES bow spontaneously....when he's looking under the deck or fence for rabbits! It took all of 5 seconds to teach him to duck into a bow with his nose under a chair. I've been playing with different ways to fade the chair, but tonight I just sort of moved away from the chair a bit and fed him his treats next to the chair instead of underneath. And eventually with much deep thought and concentration, he finally put himself into a bow position next to the chair instead of under it. And I jackpotted the hell out of him!


  1. yay for tricks!

    Why do you have to put her in a stay to get her to limp more steps? Can't you just walk backwards while she hops towards you?
    But yes, some dogs are just weird :)

  2. I feel like I had a reason for not doing it that way, but I can't remember what it was. Maybe I will try again. In general, doing anything with her in front of me is tough because she likes to be practically on top of me.

  3. Tricks are fun... I don't even know where I'd start to teach a limp, but sounds very cool!

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