This video shows two of the Open exercises. The first is the dreaded Drop on Recall, the killer for many looking to earn the CDX title. We do it now in at different distances. In my living room it’s short but we also do it outside at a greater distance. It’s important to vary the distance frequently to keep the dog sharp and instantly responsive.
Next is the Retrieve on the Flat. Again short distance, but our form is perfect. She waits for the cue and I give ONLY a verbal cue. I’ve had to work very hard on myself not to move anything when I give the cue. We are both looking straight ahead at the dumbbell. Good job to both of us!
In this video we are working on the basics of three exercises. The first you’ll see is the directed retrieve. Right now Kara is still in the phase where she wants to kill the glove. We are working on that separately! So for the concept of retrieving the object I indicate, we’re using two scent sticks. And you’ll notice we’re pretty close and don’t do the turn required in the finished exercise. The only thing we’re working on it retrieving the object I direct her to. If you watch carefully you’ll see she anticipates the second one.
Next is the down signal. Unfortunately you can see me give the signal but you can see her down in place. It’s the perfect position I want with no movement forward. You’ll also notice I say yes instead of clicking. I use both interchangeably.
Next is scent discrimination with the real articles. We’ve been working metal and at this point I have 3 other metal and two leather out in the “pile.” You’ll notice she loves this so much I have to work to keep her from going to the pile before I give the cue. Sometimes I put her in her crate in between. You might think she sees me place it, but I block her view when I put it down and you can see she’s using her nose to find the right one.
You realize very quickly that something properly trained with a clicker really stays with the dog! Back in November I did a video on the training we did with scent sticks. You can see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSWXzaSnkjg
We didn’t do much with the scent sticks for quite awhile and then I decided to see what she remembered. You’ll see in this video that she remembered perfectly! It’s time to move her on to the real articles so watch for that next!
OK! Here’s the second element from Agility Right from the Start that we want to train for helping the dog enjoy doing the teeter. It’s liking noise to the point of wanting to create it themselves.
I can hear your next question! But if I train this won’t my dog be making noise all the time??!?? I sure don’t want that!
That’s the beauty of clicker training. The dog learns very quickly and early that doing things out of context doesn’t pay. When you’re shaping something the dog will throw all sorts of behaviors that have worked in the past until they discover the one that is paying in this case. Then that’s the one they offer. So if they make noise around the house outside of a training session and you don’t acknowledge it, then they stop doing it. It didn’t pay. A word of caution though. Looking at the dog or telling the dog to be quiet is acknowledging the behavior. Just totally ignore it.
In this video I’m showing the very first step which is classically conditioned. I make a noise and follow it immediately with food. The dog doesn’t have to do anything to earn the treat. You’ll see this noise is not a all scary for Kara and after the first couple she just sits and waits for the treat. This is good. You don’t want to scare your dog, you want her to like this.
Towards the end of the video I delay the next noise so Kara can make a strong connection between the treat and the noise. I’m also making the noise close to her and in a variety of ways. This is just the first step. In the next video we move on to her making me make the noise.
The object now is for Kara to find out that she can make me make the noise which then gets her a treat. We do that by using an exercise that she already knows and does well. In our case it’s hand targeting. She’s been doing it for a long time in a lot of different circumstances so it’s a good choice.
Here’s the sequence:
I present the target
She runs up and hits it with her nose
That makes me make the noise
She gets the treat
We do that for a few repetitions and then I start to make the target hand more stationery. She’s very conditioned to target the moving hand when it stops rather than a presented stopped had. So you see her hesitate not sure what to do. I give her a tiny bit of help and then back off it so she gets the idea better. By the end of the video she’s getting better at it.
Based on this training session I know I need to do at least one more with a non-moving target before I can move on to the next step.
With the wobble board we’re training liking the feeling of being on an unstable surface. The exercise comes from a great new book called Agility Right from the Start. The ultimate goal is for the teeter which can be a very hard exercise for many dogs, especially small ones. The movement it makes when they go across it and the noise it makes can be very scary for many dogs. So I’m training the movement and the noise factors separately.
This is the first time Kara worked with the wobble board. You can see her default behavior is to sniff it or hit it with her nose. I clicked the first two sniffs to let her know that we were working with the object. After that she did put one foot on it so that became what I would click. But you can tell she hasn’t made the connection yet that it’s the paw touch that earns the click. You can see her hit it with her nose and then look up at me – where’s the click? When no click happens she tries something else which alternates between circling it and hitting it with her paw. The circling behavior comes from earlier shaping we did to circle a cone, see our video: Building a Chain.
After a bit she realizes that it’s the paw that pays so the nose touches start to get less. You’ll notice I missed a couple clicks! She’s a little hard to see sometimes so I miss some good opportunities. You’ll also notice I feed across the board and a couple times she put both paws up when getting the treat. I wanted her to understand that she could put both paws on it as that’s the next major step in training this.
You’ll also see that I made a rookie mistake! After the first time she put two paws up I tried to get her to do it again. She really hadn’t gotten the two paws behavior so you can see she didn’t offer it. I realized I went too fast and went back to clicking one paw. Since she kept offering something other than paw touch, I realized she didn’t totally have the idea of what I wanted yet.
The second time (on the same day) she gets on it there is a lot less nose touching and a lot more paw. I’ve backed off asking for 2 and just concentrate on getting only paw touches. At the end she does give me two paws by accident and I make a big fuss over it and stop right there.
We took a break from that exercise for a couple months and now the first time back to it she investigates with her nose again but the paw follows immediately. Now you see I’m getting deliberate paw touches with her head down towards the board. That gives me the idea of the next criteria to look for, paw touch with head up.
You’ll also notice she won’t get off the board! So I feed away to reset her. This also makes the behavior more clear since she has to physically go back to the board and touch it with her paw.
Towards the end of this session you’ll see me delaying the click until she starts to look up with her paw on it. You’ll also see at the end it was hard to get her away from it to stop the session. Reminder to self: Take the object away when you want to end the session!
We did a couple other exercises and then came back to the board. You see her come out of her crate and immediately go touch it. Then we had a visitor who wanted to train too! Her brother Mr. Flaki came in so I just got him up on the couch so we could continue.
So back to the exercise you’ll see a few things:
She doesn’t want to leave the board
She’s circling it with her paw on it and
She’s starting to offer more two paws
Here’s why these things are happening:
She doesn’t want to leave the board because that’s where the fun is. It’s becoming a very rewarding object to her.
She’s doing the circling with her paw on it because in the past we did an exercise for rear end awareness where she had to keep her paws on a box and move around it in a circle with her back legs. And that remembered exercise makes her want to try to put both paws on.
All of this is good and shows the strength of what she’s learned in the past. A clicker trained dog will offer all sorts of behaviors that have earned rewards in the past in a new setting until they find out what works here.
We took a short break and I remembered to pick it up! Coming back I started to try and get more two paws. She was offering them but not consistently. When shaping like this it’s a fine line you tread when you start raising criteria. If you raise it too fast the dog can get frustrated and quit. If you raise it too slowly then the dog gets stuck and it’s really hard to move forward. Shaping is a real art and takes time for both you and your dog to get.