A Day of Spanish Cues: A Mini-Test and More Work On Stay | Exploits of an Amateur Dog Trainer: Blog Edition

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Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Day of Spanish Cues: A Mini-Test and More Work On Stay

Just to mix things up a bit, I decided to give a little "test" to Wally on the Spanish cues we've been working with for quite some time now and it looks like he has an understanding of them. This was not only a test of giving the right behavior in response to known situations, but what he figures out when given the cue in new situations (for that cue).

Also, we worked more on training stay and did throw in a little more working with recognizing the ball and rabbit, but that was nothing that hasn't already been mentioned before. The majority of cues he got were in Spanish, so it was a day of Spanish for Wally.

The Mini-Test

Abajo, Arriba, Abres, y Cierras

First up would be the mini-test. This would be on the first four Spanish words I really introduced to him and used in training him.

Abajo y Arriba
For "abajo" and "arriba", I put him near the stairs and he had to go in the proper direction that I gave. At first, it was easy, I stayed where I usually do and cued arriba or abajo. As expected, this was no problem for him. He got these easily for both sets of stairs. A really good job and didn't really miss any, aside from the occasional "extra" barking before he would do the proper movement, especially, for some reason, with arriba. Maybe the sound of the word just sounds exciting to him!

Having mastered that, it was time to up the challenge some. I moved back from him to add some distance with him staying put. Then, I cued the direction. He was anticipating another instruction at first, and the first few times, he was confused. This was especially the case on "abajo" likely because he was even farther from me and he had to pick out the sound with some walls and such between us. Even though this was harder for him, after a while, he picked up on it.

Next was really tricky. I had him come to the middle of the hall. Arriba was to make him go up one set of stairs, but abajo was for another set. This really threw him for a loop for quite some time! Up until this point, arriba/abajo belonged to the same set of stairs, just a different position relative to him and I (probably, at least that was some part of the "picture" he had). Now, we're in the middle and it was less obvious. Wally had a tough time with this, and I certainly made a mental note of it.

The next test was as tricky as it didn't involve stairs at all, but a chair he could jump/climb into and jump down from. Or at least I though it would be tricky. He figured it out somewhat quickly, though it's probably something we could stand to work on later.

Abres y Cierras

Working these two was more limited as they relate to doors. At first, it was right near the door. A warm-up of sorts was leaving a small crack in the door (so his nose could fit) and cuing abres while a clearly opened door would have me cuing cierras. No problems here, he moved quickly and only got them mixed up when he wasn't thinking straight and just eager to one of them, usually the last behavior he did, regardless of the cue. That excitement. Looks like we need more work on controlled excitement training as well.

Increasing the challenge came mostly from creating ambiguous situations or cuing the same direction more than once (Especially for abres as this has easily practical uses - I may need him to open the door wider for something).

With the ambiguous situation, I put the door with more than a small crack in it, but not quite halfway open to where it would be clear which one I want (or where it would be impossible for him to close due to the angles and position of the door). Now this made him think! I could see him pausing before acting as if he's trying to remember which cue when with which behavior while looking at the door. It looked like he was thinking "okay, where do I need to push the door to do that?".

At first, he sort of just guessed, or took the easier looking action, but after getting some light "nope" markers, he started to think about what was going on, and starting picking the right behavior more often, and once he started getting rewards again, he was making a clearer connection and being right more, and more frequently.

To close out the test, I cued abres/cierras from various locations. I might not always be right by the door, and neither might he, though most of it was me being in different places. This worked well, he didn't get mixed up by where I was, he was focused on the door and manipulating it correctly. He did better than I might have thought initially, but I wasn't too shocked as I probably did this now and then just in day-to-day moving around the house and such.

Stop, Wally! Pare!

He's getting it better. I resumed working on the hand signal and saying "pare" and that's helping to stop a lot faster. I've even been able to move away from him while doing this and he'll stand still. Excellente! I think he'll continue making the connection as I continue drilling it (in a fun way of course!) and using a lot of Premack Principle, which is probably how I taught "wait" and "stay" to begin with.

I'm glad and maybe a bit "relieved" that he's getting a better grasp. I think there's still a little disconnect with the sound (once I gave the cue while on our walk, where we worked on it this evening, and he took a second to even register the sound, but then stopped on a dime. Another thing that will come with continued work and repetition and of course plenty of rewards (read: bread balls)!

Of course, I looked up "Spanish dog commands" in google and found this little chart of cues in foreign languages, including Spanish. Of course, there's a different word for "stay" but, hey, I figure it's fine. He doesn't know - and it's not really "Stay" (as in stay put and don't start moving) but "stop moving" (implying he's in motion) so it's more a wait.

Plus, not everyone uses the same English cues - so, yeah. Still, it's a nice little chart. I'm also using SpanishDict.com to look up meanings and such (Again, it matters to me - of course not at all to him...as long as I can say it consistently!) The link goes to "parar" which is the infinitive verb form. I'm choosing the Usted Subjunctive form for verbs at this point, though I broke from that for abre and cierras... not sure why.

Well, guess that wraps up the day. Muy bien, Wally!