Saturday, January 2, 2010

When it's too cold to go outside .....

We have been in the deep freeze lately with the temperature being minus 16 degrees F last night (I believe that's about - 26 C). So, a good time to stay inside and work off excess energy by training the dumbbell pick-up. Actually, I had to wake Jolee up to do this training. (I'm thankful this time of year that my dogs are couch potatoes and do not need to get out and run off pent-up energy :)

As I've mentioned previously, I'm experimenting with various ways to teach the dumbbell retrieve to Jolee using clicker training. I'm probably going about it backwards, but we are having fun. In the first session, I put the dumbbell on the floor and clicked and treated for any interest in it (walking toward it, standing over it, sniffing it, etc.). In the next few sessions, I clicked and treated for pushing it with her nose, pawing it, licking and mouthing it. Then, today for the first time, she picked it up off the floor. I clicked and treated for any time she actually picked it up.

This first video is how she started out with the pushing it around.

In the second session, she started picking it up off the floor. Even though she's picking it up by the end instead of the middle, I'm clicking and treating for any pick-up.

At the end of the session today, I held it and asked her to take it from my hand. To my surprise, she took it right away. I think she is starting to associate taking the dumbbell with good stuff.

So, in summary, we've moved from her not wanting to have anything to do with the dumbbell, especially not having it put in her mouth, to enthusiastically picking it up when she thinks there may be a treat in it for her. I'm wondering now what I should do in our next session. Maybe I should work on having her take it from my hand and holding it. Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated. This clicker training is new ground for me :)


Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

i think you're making wonderful progress! It actually looks like she really likes holding in her mouth the second session since she didn't drop it right away after you clicked and even wanted to take it onto the bed!

Like I mentioned earlier I don't think there's any wrong step you can take with clicker training. For my dogs the holding it was the absolute hardest part so I worked on all the other steps separately while I was also working on the hold. But she seems to be doing a longer hold already then I struggled to get with weeks of training with Lance!

Marie said...

I just found your blog accidently while surfing other blog lists. How funny this post is about the dumbell too! (I just posted something similar myself)

I do not currently show in obedience nor really plan to but if you are looking for any help in clicker training I highly recommend the book "The Thinking Dog" by Gail Tamases Fisher. I just started it myself and LOVE how detailed it is on the subject.

I haven't read all your blog yet so maybe you already heard of it.

Anyhow love the blog. Good luck with your goal!

Kathie R said...

Laura and Marie, Thanks for the comments. I am really having fun experimenting with clicker training, and am surprised at the progress we are making with it. I will check out the book "The Thinking Dog." I've read quite a bit online, but need to keep reading more if I'm going to go further with this. I'm thinking I need to reduce the verbal praise and let the clicker be the marker, but it's hard to keep quiet because I get excited when she seems to 'get it.'