Blend of Object Immersion and Discrimination | Exploits of an Amateur Dog Trainer: Blog Edition

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Blend of Object Immersion and Discrimination

Not sure what "catchy" title to call this. It's not just object discrimination or object immersion, but today we did some of both, with also giving him his first all-Spanish "sentence": 'Donde está ____ ?' which sends him looking around for the object in the blank.


Where's That Bone?

Since the bone, 'hueso', is the object we've spent the most time with, that was the first object. I pulled out his big soccer ball (not his new ball) and put that in the floor. I tossed the bone a little past the ball, so he'd have to cross the ball's path to get to the bone.

As I thought, he would try for the ball a lot. After some simple "nope" whenever he would even try to interact with the ball he started looking around. He found the bone and that got rewarded heartily (with homemade cinnamon banana bread).

Now that he's all hyped up because there's now a super reward attached to this, he kept going for the ball again! This was likely excitement combined with the fact that in the past we've worked only one object at a time - so the concept I might be wanting something else has a hard time sinking in so far.

But, once he got some more "nope" from me, he started looking for that bone. I kept calling "hueso! hueso!" and he kept looking around. After some successes with the bone in one spot, I tossed it somewhere else, again so he doesn't just get used to going to that spot.

He got into the groove and I hid the bone behind my back and kept calling "hueso!". I wanted to see if he could recognize the bone wasn't there at all. I wanted confusion because that means he's looking for the object, can't find it, and he's looking around and "asking" for help. Once I saw that and he wasn't looking at me, I'd hold the bone out. Once he turned around and saw it, he came running up to it, and I rewarded him.

Then that's when I threw in "Donde está hueso?". He already knows "Donde está?" as his cue to find it. So hearing that question will already put him in the "find it, find it!" mode. This time, I specified "it", the bone - hueso.

He looked around, and a few times wanted to go for the ball, but didn't! He pulled away and kept looking around (the bone was on the bed, not hidden, but not in plain sight). Initially, he was confused, still looking around the floor, but got a thought to try the bed. He jumped up and found the bone, brought it back, and got his reward.

Did this for about 10 minutes or so, and then switched objects.


Now, where's the ball?

For this trial, the soccer ball was replaced by his new ball (this would be the target) and I put down one of his favorite toys and another random object as the decoys.

To help his mind change gears, I did a quick touch exercise with the ball (pelota). I said "pelota" with the ball right there near him, so it was easy for him to touch it. What's interesting is the first few times, he was tentative - as if he knew that before he wasn't supposed to get the ball! That was interesting to watch.

Once he was touching the ball eagerly. I tossed it up on the bed (while he was getting the reward so he couldn't see it) and called "Donde está pelota?" He looked around and didn't see the ball. He went for his favorite toy, drawing a "nope" from me. He brought it to me anyway, and I just took from him and tossed it back and called for the ball again.

After a little more searching, he found the ball and retrieved it. He didn't try to bring back the other objects too often, which was good to see. A few times he went for his toy, but that was it.


Observing His Search Pattern

While he looked for the objects, I watched his searching. Often, he searches the same area repeatedly before thinking to move to a new area. It seems he's also broken down the room into three parts: the area with the bed, the area around his favorite corner (with the TV as well), and the area between the two. I'm not certain why he searches the same area multiple times - perhaps he thinks it will appear or show up and he doesn't want to miss it.

Of course, once he finds the object in an area, he will go back there the next time, usually as the first place he looks. He did go look in the "TV part" of the room a few times, but not particularly often (mostly when looking for the ball - wonder why).

Perhaps that could be the next thing down the line, trying to improve the efficiency of his searching. That sounds like a real big challenge!