Friday, March 2, 2012

A day in the life of Tess

 There is a danger of teaching a smart dog to problem solve and offer behavior! 

Tess turns 1 year old in about a week, and while she's definitely calming down, there are afternoons (like this one) where she has been ignored for most of several days (I had an exam this morning and had to put in some heavy duty studying).  To get my attention she runs through all her tricks and then starts offering new ones.  Most of the time the lack of attention is the lack of a reward, but every once in a while she discovers something so self rewarding that I have to take action....

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Showoff - Yoga

I taught this in order to stretch her back out after doing a handstand.  Which yoga position is it?  Down-ward facing dog of course!

Showoff moment - roll over

Sorry for the “clicking” noise - I’ll take my camera strap off next time. 

I love how she brings me the toy.  We have really been working hard on making the association between toy and high value treats.  The messing around she’s doing in the beginning up close is her trying to get at the toy - which is GREAT. 

I trained this in 3 stages with a clicker -

1.  lay on your side with your head on the ground.

2.  go completely on your back

3.  flip over. 

I didn’t intend on this to be a roll over trick.  I was teaching #1 as a “relax” cue when I was using her in public and she was in a down stay.  A couple of days ago she was really excited and she started offering her “relax” trick, and then rolled over - which is adorable and I could totally use for a “bang” trick (play dead: fall on to side and roll over with feet in air).  Yesterday I decided to see if she would actually roll over. 

A couple of notes

This is the second session I've had on this trick, so it's fairly recent. 

In the beginning if you want closely, you can see she offers me at least 2 other behaviors that she has been previously rewarded for, before going into the roll over sequence.  BEcause this trick is not yet named (see later notes) and I’m waiting for her to offer it, she’s trying a few other things first that she has been strongly rewarded for in the past - when no treat or verbal praise comes, she moves onto another behavior, which I immediately reward her for because she’s on the “right track”.  The behaviors she offers in the beginning are: nose tap and freeze with her head at the ground, and she thought about doing a trick called “yoga”, which I’m also working on (more on that later). 

I’m rewarding each stage right now because I’m going to be getting 3 separate tricks out of this: relax, Bang, and roll over.

You will notice that there isn’t any verbal cue for any of these - I name tricks only AFTER they are learned.  I wait until she’s offering the behavior ~80% of the time, then I’ll start saying the word, right before she does it, to associate the word cue. 

Although I trained this behavior with a clicker, you will notice that once she offers the behavior consistently, I don’t necessarily need a clicker to reinforce it.  When I start using a word cue, I’ll go back to a clicker for a session or two so I can help her understand the exact moment she completes the behavior. 

I managed to get this behavior with luring - which is nice because I don’t have a physical cue to fade out, and it will be easier to get her to do it just on the verbal cue later. 

I’m rewarding with random kibble.  She just had breakfast (a raw patty), but since she’s VERY food motivated it isn’t  problem :)

After the camera was turned off, I had a good fetch/tug session with the giant rope toy - shaping and training a behavior is a lot of mental work and it’s good to give the pup a release from the stress in a physical way (Tess tends to EXPLODE with energy and delight after a training session and be very bouncy because she’s so proud of herself). 

A good way to visualize how hard the dog must work mentally doing a shaping session is to imagine you standing in front of someone with a handful of m&m’s.  You really want the candy.  The person waits.  You have to do something.  But they aren’t giving you any kind of lure.  You sit down.  “good” - and you get a treat.  So you stay sitting.  No more treats.  It has something to do with sitting…… put your hands on the ground - no treat.  You put your knees to your chest - no treat.  you lay down - “good!” - and you get a treat.

You get the idea.