Exploits of an Amateur Dog Trainer: Blog Edition: October 2011

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

All-Positive Monday 26 - Quest of The Blue Rug

The blue rug remains the focus of our training so far, and we're still working on a making it a place he will want to go on and thus make it a very attractive place for him to go to.

We worked more on shaping and then just getting the spot being a trigger for a reward even when not making it an explicit target of training. If he walks on it during the day, he gets a click and treat. If he walks on it while playing, I'll praise and give him a treat. If he lays on it, sits on it, plays on it, whatever, he gets rewarded.

I think doing that - getting him rewarded for being on, or stepping on, the rug is a good first step to getting him to offer it on his own during shaping. I've done something similar before - teach him a behavior outside of shaping, then have him refine, master, and fully reinforce the behavior during shaping and games.

Also found the Spanish word that I'll link to the rug, 'tapete'. Then I'll use "¿Dònde està tapete?" to tell him to find the rug.

That is the first "formal" game we'll play with the rug.

The other side effect of this is he'll get more "mat work" as well. The things learned here could carry over to that exercise as well, since the concept is the same idea: get to the spot where the "mat" is.

So that's where we are with the rug and our continuing practice in working with it.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Square Blue Rug

I'm trying to think of things to do with the blue rug I had bought for him some time earlier. At first, he was
using it as part of where he laid in my room, but now that his new bed is there and the rug moved to the floor in front of his crate, I'm trying to think of new things to do with it.

Right now, I'm shaping him to sit and lay on it, and he got the idea pretty fast. But I wonder if that's all we can do with it. Perhaps I should see what else he comes up with. Maybe leave something he can pick up near by and see if he thinks of anything.

Or perhaps take what he's doing now and playing some sort of game where he needs to get on the rug to win. Things like that have always helped him. I think first I need to teach him what that's called (put a name to the behavior we've shaped), and then start to use that to play the game, helping him learn both the new cue as well as make the rug more important and rewarding for him to be on and get on.

Sounds like a good idea for next Monday, actually. Certainly can do that in an all-positive way.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Spanish for Wally: Adentro y Afuera 2

Wally is starting to get the idea of the words, and mostly I use them when I would use "inside" and "outside", respectively. 

One thing that is interesting is that when I said "Afuera", at first he hesitated. The reason was because I didn't say "outside". I was under the impression that he did not understand "inside" and "outside", and perhaps he doesn't, but he knew it was one of those two words. Pretty interesting. 

Still, he is getting "afuera" pretty quickly. He trots outside like no problem. "Adentro", though, still seems to be confusing him sometimes. He hesitated, and still does once in a while, but only on "adentro". 

I am not sure why that is. I have to use a hand signal to gesture him inside when I say the word. Perhaps he can't hear the word too well, or perhaps I'm not saying it consistently (entirely possible, not a native Spanish speaker and just learned the words myself). 

One day I will need to practice sending him in and out, and perhaps even use the clicker to mark the correct behavior to help him really understand. 

Then after that, it will be time to give a "test" to see where he is in understanding and where more practice is needed. 

So far, I think he's learning pretty well overall. Seems like using Spanish is still a good way to expand his "vocabulary", and introduce new concepts or reteach old ones.

Monday, October 10, 2011

"All-Positive Monday" 25 - Balancing On My Back

Trying to get him to look at the camera.

The latest thing we tried was born from a play session. Normally, we have a bit of a play session in the morning - sort of our morning ritual of saying "good morning" to each other. Sometimes, he'll "jump on my back" and I'll pretend like he's pinned me down. The picture above was from a few days back where we were practicing just him staying on my back and me standing still.

Well, one day, I tried to get him actually to get on my back. That sort of worked, but he was certainly unsure of the situation (and probably my back).

Then he got comfortable with it and that was a start I could work with. Long story short, he got on my back and I was able to get up and he would stay on while I sort of crawled around.

Today, we kept practicing that but with me actually walking and moving around while he stays on my back. I armed myself with some beef and got him up on my back with me lying down. For now, this part is still something of luring, though I detest using luring in training.

Once on my back, I slowly got up to a "standing" (my legs were standing, the rest of me bent at the waist), and I took a couple steps and then feed him a bit of beef. A couple more steps and more beef. Repeating this for a while to make the interest of being up there even stronger. I'm willing to bet he is still a bit nervous of the whole idea, especially once I start moving around.

Eventually, made my way to the stairs. Dare I try it? I did. This was something of an adventure for the both of us. I'm certainly not used to moving around like a hunchback and he was like "we're doing what now?", and I could feel those paws digging in a bit more as I started up the stairs (felt like little pin pricks - more an unusual sensation instead of a painful one).

Every couple stairs, I praised him and fed him another bit of beef.

Then we made it to the top, I slowly knelt back down and bent forward some, as if touching my head to the floor, and cue his "get off" behavior. He jumped off just fine (which also felt funny) and was happy and excited.

Below are a couple more pictures just to give an idea how it looks. I apologize in advance for any poor quality. Taking these by myself with a dog on my back is not something I've done before!

Admiring the view from his perch.

I think he's enjoying this.