Monday, March 29, 2010

Five-a-day challenge

I saw the five-a-day challenge referenced on a blog recently - can't remember which blog - but it motivated me to try it. It's basically doing five short training sessions per day to work on a behavior. I've had trouble sticking to multiple short training sessions per day even though I do believe they are more productive than the 'marathon' sessions I tend to do at the club. Now that the weather is conducive to being outdoors, I think it'll be much easier to just step outside for a few minutes and train. I've decided to commit to doing this for at least one week and see if I can maintain a schedule.

The behavior I'm going to work on this week is attention. Yes, it's back to basics again : ) What I'm doing is taking Jackson out in front of our house (where there are lots of distractions) and clicking and treating him for every time he looks at me. We just do this for 4-5 minutes. My goal is for his attention on me to become his default behavior. I video taped our first session today and at the end of the week, I'll video tape another session and see if I can see any difference. If I can see progress, I'll then start taking him to other places with different distractions and work on attention in those locations.

I also added some heeling to the session after a couple minutes of just standing and treating for attention. I'm a big fan of 'choose to heel,' so I walk a ways and click and treat when he gets in heel position.


Honey the Great Dane said...

How interesting - I'm trying the same thing with Honey at the moment! It's because I'm trying to get her to Heel with her head up looking at me (looks so much better in dancing) and so although I can heel her fine in terms of position, just using the old way, I found the clicker for attention very good to encouraging her to keep looking up and giving me attention. I also do your thing of walking off & clicking when she catches up in Heel position - I noticed that Jackson looked much more animated in your video when you started doing this - really nice Heeling and looking up at you - you should keep this up!

What I've also done - don't know if this may help you - is introduce a different word for this kind of Heeling. This is because at the Ian Dunbar seminar, he said dogs learn "situational differences" between commands and will perform the same action differently in different situations. So he basically formalised this and taught his dogs a different command for Heeling when he goes in the Obedience ring - ie. to really "sparkle" - and full attention on him, give it their all - and they know this will be for just a short time - and then in everyday life, he uses a different command which means they still have to stay in position but don't have to be looking at him all the time.

I've been trying this with Honey as our normal "Heel" command is used in everyday life to mean that she shoudl just stay in position and IGNORE all distractions around her but she can plod with her head down or looking around if she wants. But I've started training short sessions using a different word where I only click her if she stays in Heel position AND looks up at me - and I find this is working quite well. When she hears this other command and knows we're in these special sessions, she really does make much more effort and has a spring in her step, more attention, etc - Vs. when we are just out walking and I want her to pass another dog without interacting - then she can Heel in a more relaxed fashion.

I'm planning to do a post on some of the Ian Dunbar stuff I learnt at the seminar soon so I'll post a video showing Honey doing this different kind of Heeling with the new command.


Kathie R said...

Hsin-Yi, Thanks for the comments. That is an interesting concept. I look forward to hearing more about your Ian Dunbar seminar. I'll have to think of a word I can put with the head's up heeling and see if I can get that response on command.

Honey the Great Dane said...

OOh, thanks for the helpful tip on my dancing post, Kathie!

Actually - you couldn't see this in the videos coz I edited it ou - but I have been trying recently to leave the treats at the side and running back to feed her from them - and she has been responding fairly well to that. But again, it's a duration problem - ie. she remains pretty focused & enthusiastic if we're only doing say 5 moves in a row - and then running back - but if I try to do the whole routine (which really is about 30 moves in a row!) - then I start to lose her in the middle...even though I leave a big bag of treats very obviously at the side and I make a big fuss about them in the beginning so she knows they are there...maybe it's just a case of needing to build it up very slowly and I'm just rushing it. Although I keep wondering if I don't know if she really IS capable of getting through a whole routine without treats - ever! Maybe that is just asking too much and beyond the type of dog she is...

It's also very frustrating because I can get her to do several Obedience exercises in a row without any treats at all - don't know why?! (maybe, ironically, because a lot of her Obedience was taught the old-fashioned way, using a combination of correction & praise, whereas all the dancing stuff is taught with clicker & treats...maybe that's a downside of totally positive training - over-reliance on rewards to ensure motivation?) - so I sort of feel like, "if you can do this for Obedience and give me that much focus, for so long, why can't you do it for dancing??!!" Grrr!!

I know the dancing moves are more complicated and difficult to execute for her and probably require more brain power, as I expect faster response from her, in perfect time to the cue (coz we have to be in time to the music) and that may be while - she seems to find most of the Obedience exercises easier....*sigh*...

Anyway, I haven't tried the back-chaining properly yet so may give that a go...

Thanks again!