"All-Positive Monday" IV | Exploits of an Amateur Dog Trainer: Blog Edition

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Monday, April 4, 2011

"All-Positive Monday" IV

The fourth "All-Positive Monday" included the color training as planned. We did some more reviewing mentioned in this post with a little more added challenge in that I bypassed the showing him the color. I just went straight to putting the flashcard somewhere, and telling him "azul" and he had to go find it and touch it (or bring it back). I believe he's getting the idea of the name as there were times where I put it almost right under him (he couldn't see it and didn't think to look under his own body) and he was looking around in previous locations for the card, scanning for the card. When he found it, he moved quickly to it. I think this is a good sign of progress. I also introduced the card being attached to an object at about eye level and continued to reward him touching the object, creating another little twist and another way to get him familiar to how the card might be presented.

Doing this kind of work with him might have shown me one place where going all positive reinforcement could be easily viable - creating associations. In this case, it's between a familiar object (blue flashcard) and a name ("azul"). Creating the initial attraction/attention on the object also was nothing but positive reinforcement. Basically, just marking and rewarding any attention he pays to the object and I let him just go with it in terms of how he wanted to interact. The other association case I can think of is connecting a name or signal to an existing behavior. For example, during "touch" training, Wally would reliably offer putting his nose on the object. Just before he completes the behavior (before the nose hits the object), I would say "touch", then mark when the nose hits the object and give a reward.

Then of course, there's the "charging the marker" which is creating that first association that the click (or whatever reward marker(s) you choose to teach) signals that the dog earned a coming reward.

It may be time to give "azul" a bit of a break and start introducing "amarillo", the yellow flashcard. Or perhaps I'll try transfering "azul" from 'off the flashcard' and onto a blue object, and have him retrieve it by it's color - well, that might be too ambitious, but the card maybe could be mixed in with another object, increasing the challenge a little more. We'll see. Part of me wants to let "azul" rest for a few days to settle in his brain. As always, thoughts are welcome.