"All-Positive Monday" V: Of Colors and Looking at Kids | Exploits of an Amateur Dog Trainer: Blog Edition

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Monday, April 11, 2011

"All-Positive Monday" V: Of Colors and Looking at Kids

Today, we worked the colors a lot. The day started with working with yellow and doing some more of the usual show->call->he touches->mark and reward procedure and getting him "into the game" so to speak.

But this time, I also introduced a new scenario using them.

While we are still working on the teaching of the colors, I started introducing both colors to him in the same session. Not so much of discrimination just yet, but alternating which one I show him to get his mind used to thinking about both colors at the same time.

I randomly displayed a color and called out it's name, and he touched it as usual. To keep him from just zoning in on which side the color was on (the cards were in my lap each resting on one of my legs), I would switch them around a few times every so often before showing him a color and calling it. I also changed up how fast the colors displayed so he didn't get into a timing rhythm either. Hopefully, it also made his mind shift gears a bit from waiting to seeing the color, to waiting again, making him focus attention and stay alert since he never knew when I'd show a card.

After a little bit of a break, both to give down time and let his mind process what happened, I went back to one color, but added a new dynamic: distance. I put Wally in a sit-stay and moved some distance away, then showed the color and called the name. He had to come and touch it as normal, but after getting the mark and reward, I moved back more and called the name again. This put a spin on the game while also getting him into the swing of seeing the color/card from a distance and on the move, not just while largely stationary and only a foot away from him. At the end, I even did a couple where I went completely out of his sight. This was something of a challenge for him, but it was a taste of the next level, so to speak.

The other part of the day was playing the "Look At That" game, but only with kids. After seeing still some hesitation and uncertainty around kids, especially ones that tend to run to get to him, I decided to devote the outdoor portions of the day to this. With Spring looking like it is actually here to stay (maybe - never know with April weather!) and Spring Break coming up and the longer days, kids will be out more often when we go walking and some might come to pet him or just the general activity and movement from their play near where we happen to be walking. It will be good to help build his "resolve" around kids some.

I'm also going to have to remember to have treats in my pocket, both for the Look At That game and for letting them offer him the treats. I noticed that the girls (and I say girls all the time because it's ALWAYS been girls) that he's taken treats from before, he seems to warm up to faster, even if they startle him a bit, so that seems to be a winning strategy.

After that it was dinner time and time for him to get some much deserved rest. He had a rather mentally challenging day.