Sunday, April 15, 2012

Training Tess 4-14-12

This week's video is up!!!

The weather was beautiful so I decided to take it to the front yard.  The contact behavior I'm working on is a "developing" skill, and I need to work on it in different settings.  The front yard is distracting, and the grass adds a challenge - but I felt we were up to it.

We've been working VERY hard this week on attention in the face of distraction AND playing tug with me.  I've not wanted to put too many rules on toy play because rules can be de-motivating, but Tess started to have a lot of "I don't wanna so I don't hafta" moments with tug.  I decided that enforcing "criteria" was different.  My criteria is: she has to take the toy when I ask, she has to hold on to the toy and shift her weight to her hind end and stay engaged until I tell her to drop it.  When I say "drop", she has to drop it.

Susan Garrett mentioned in her newsletter last week that not enforcing a black and white criteria is confusing for the dog and leads to puppy zoomies, shut downs, and stress.  Tess was exhibiting all of these during toy play, so I concluded that the lack of an enforced black and white criteria was probably the issue.

It really sucked for 48 hours.  I would ask for her to play with me at random spots (in the parking lot, in the car, prior to going outside, in the hallway etc.) and kept at it until she did a tug that met criteria.  I worked HARD.  She was stressed.  My entire school probably thinks I'm mental because of my wild behavior throughout school grounds in an attempt to engage my dog.  But I worked through every single "I don't wanna I don't hafta" moment for 2 days and then it was like a light bulb went on in her head and she now plays my tug game any where, any time with me.  It was the perfect example of how not enforcing a black and white criteria can hurt your training,  and you aren't being "nice" to your dog by making excuses or letting them sometimes do something and sometimes not. 

After reviewing this video, I probably need to make my criteria for the board more black and white ALL the time.  In the beginning because it was a new location, very distracting etc etc I didn't - I was being "nice".  You can see how much more distracted she was in the beginning - not as motivated, self releasing, not releasing when asked, not as focused - as compared to the end when I actually expected her to comply with the "rules" of the game: one hind paw on the board until I say otherwise, you actually have to release when I tell you so etc.

Overall I'm really happy with this session. 

A couple of notes about the session:
-I'm still too distracted at the beginning by the camera and getting the angles right.  It's better than last week though!

-IYC is improving.  She didn't try for the bowl more than right at the beginning, and just once.

-Need to stop "cheerleading" so much!  Good girl good girl good girl.....

-Really liked that she was more engaged at the end of the session than the beginning.  Actually timing sessions makes a HUGE difference. 


  1. I like the cheerleading, actually.

    Remember that your verbal praise is *also* a cue to the trainer (you) to recognize correct behavior, so in order to train yourself to praise good things, you may need to praise good things more often/more vehemently than you will want to when Tess is an adult.

    Does that make sense? You're doing wonderful work with this pup, it's a joy to watch you together!

  2. I think I AM doing the "cheerleading" more for myself than for her, so yes, what you say makes sense. I LIKE cheerleading, but have felt self concious of it ever since a trainer I really respected heard me do it (on my own time, not in a lesson) and made me feel bad about it - so ever since I've been concious that it might not be the best practice :(. But I LIKE it. It makes me feel good. It makes my animals feel good. And it's probably one more reason I'm not cut out for the formal show world :)

    1. It was in the horse world that the cheerleading got pointed out - not the dog world :)

  3. Fascinating. I love the videos :)

    I think everybody - dogs and people and horses - wants consistency. If you like to praise, praise. If you don't praise often, you'll get a bigger response when you do, just because it's more of a jackpot. I don't think there's anything wrong with diluting "good girl" - you have other jackpots for when she's really super extra good.