Exploits of an Amateur Dog Trainer: Blog Edition

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Wally Searching - With Boxes

More searching - this time with boxes (searching and him picking them up for whatever reason).

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Wally Searching

Here's what Wally looks like doing his searching. He's getting into it. We've done more practice and it looks similar to this.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Wally's New Challenge: Searching

Been a while - but there's something new worth writing about :)

I've come across Nosework. I read about it on a forum I frequent and thought "hey, this might be the thing to make those Find It games a challenge again!"

So I read this thread and started to get into the basics of it.

I got some boxes from the local crafts store and poked holes in a small one for the scent to get out. That small one would go inside the slightly bigger ones - big enough for him to stick his head in.

He'd then have to find the small box (it has treats or other smelly food in it that he loves) and when he does, he gets rewarded from me.

I'm learning it's important to reward on the source of the scent as well as to do so quickly. The goal is to get the dog to linger at the source - that's how he'll tell me he found it. At least for now.

Initially, Wally just wanted to molest the boxes (if not destroy them) to see if there's food inside, but then he started to get it. #1 - the boxes are not the "it" I want found, and #2, stay on the scent once you find it.

Of course, both are still a work in progress considering we've been at this all of two days. It's challenging him mentally, but he LOVES it. He's just almost obsessed about it. He gets so into trying to get the little box out of the big one that he "sticks" to the source (GOOD), but it's also harder to reward him because he's just into that little box!

He's all worn out and sleeping hard after, but it's so funny to watch him not want to stop while he's in the moment and mindset for the searching.

This is definitely something we're going to keep working on for sure! He loves it. I love watching him go at it, and it's a nice new twist on something we already do.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Learning The Blue Boundary

In an effort to give him a landmark between the hall and the kitchen, I used some blue electrical tape and put it at the entry to the kitchen.

The goal was to have him stay behind the blue line, as that would keep him from the kitchen. The line would serve as the new landmark for him, since the floor is uniform in color now.

The trick was, and still is, getting him used to look down to find something not food or toy related. He has never had to look down to find information, so to speak, before.

That became step one, getting him to see and be interested in the line. Shaping this would be on the difficult side since he probably is not aware that there's something of interest there to him. His paws can't detect it since he's not stepping on it, and he is going to be drawn to the throw rug, since that is an easier object for him to see and feel, let alone grab with his teeth and pull at with his paws. He feels he could interact with it to offer behaviors on it.

So I turned to targeting. I pointed at the blue line and asked him to paw it. This was still difficult because he wasn't used to "pawing at nothing". I wasn't pointing to an object or to anything he's used to looking at or noticing. He's like "paw...what?!", then he pawed my hand. That wasn't it. I kept pointing and asking for the behavior.

He did paw the blue line almost like "what...that...blue stuff?" Yes, Wally. That "blue stuff".

Treating took place on the line. I put the reward directly on the line. That way, he HAD to look at it to get the treat. This would be the start of getting him interested in that blue line on the ground.

After a little bit of that, I went back to shaping. Of course, started trying pawing everything BUT the blue line. Then finally, I saw him look at the line while looking around for something to paw. He snapped his head up as if in surprise at getting the marker. He took the reward (again placing the
treat on the line itself), and was looking around like "okay...so what was I doing to get the food?"

When the nose pointed at the blue line (where the nose points, the eyes are probably looking), I marked him again and put the reward on the line.

We repeated that a few times before I got the behavior that would make a good place to stop. He started holding his paw out over the line.

He was becoming aware of it! He wasn't sure how to interact with that line, but he stretched out his paw like he was trying to feel for it. That got him a reward. He did it again. I marked that and give him a nice jackpot and ended the session. After letting him know how proud of him I was and giving him an all over rubbing, I took him to his spot in my room so he could get some water and rest. I wanted him to think about it and let his mind stew on it (latent learning), so that, hopefully, we'd have some progress the next time.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Everything Fine, Wally Gets Some Seizure Meds

Wally's bloodwork and other physical checkups were just fine. So the seizures are considered idiopathic and he got some medicine (phenobaribitol) that, hopefully, will help control the episodes.

So far, nothing seems to be adversely affecting him in terms of side effects, but I'm watching him like a hawk in lots of areas and seeing if there's any drop off in any of his mental and physical activity. He's resting peacefully as well.

Hopefully, this good start is a sign of things to come as we continues on the medicine. Just wanted to give a quick update.