Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I'm seriously scared

Tess is scary smart.

How in the world am I going to:

1.  Stay ahead of the this dog as we BOTH learn agility
2.  Not completely screw up this dog by inadvertently rewarding the wrong stuff.
3.  Keep her little mind active enough that she doesn't start developing alternative career plans such as "official stuffed animal destroyer", or "vet" (because at this point I pretty sure she could go through vet school and pass the boards before I can).

Just had a training session where I was reminded how very fast her little mind moves.

a.  We have only done 6 weave poles.  She's not solid on all her entries, so we stayed there for a while.  My trainer ("K") said that you don't want to stay at one place too long because they can get "stuck" so I decided to go ahead and add another 6 pole set in line and see how she did with 12 --> were our problems a lack of understanding or boredom?  Ummmm.....considering she flew through the set of 12 with NO problems and actually got FASTER with BETTER foot work, I'm thinking the latter.

As that little project only took 3 minutes of my planned training session I decided to do some shaping exercises.

b.  For the online clicker challenge I have a couple of tricks in mind, including her doing various figures around my legs.  I decided to work on a figure 8 through my legs at a walk.  This was our second session on this behavior, so of course I'm breaking it down in itty bitty steps and keeping a very high reward BIG exaggerated SLOW step after another.  After one or two trips across the room, I was ready to start another one.  I stood, with Tess on my right, and my legs slightly apart.  "Ready?", asked.  In response Tess started doing FAST figure 8's through my only slightly parted legs, as I stood there.  Ummm....yeah.  Very good Tess.  Way to generalize.  I guess we have that one down. about going forward with me with your head between my knees?  OK.  How about backing up with me keeping your head is between my knees?  Ummm....I guess that's it for today. 

Tess is VERY good about generalizing.  This is bad, this is good.  It means that any errors in my training instantly carry over to all sorts of behaviors.  It means letting her break a control behavior (like house, sit, down, stand) at ANY time IMMEDIATELY transfers to training.  It also means that a skill learned on a "transition" object like a travel plank for contacts instantly transfers to obstacles.  It definitely keeps me on my toes and I quickly know whether I've screwed up somewhere......

Whew....sometimes I think I got a Border Collie with floppy ears.  Who likes birds instead of sheep.  And prefers to focus on birds instead of me.  Without a tail.  And without fear.

And by the way - having done exercises with friends, clicker training each other through shaping (friend has handful of m&m's and clicker.  Without luring, tries to shape a behavior in other person), I know from personal experience it is not the easiest thing to figure out how to get those m&ms!!!!!!  I'm in awe of how FAST Tess can figure out what I want.  That's genius right there....

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