Sunday, March 6, 2011

Training update

Training has been more relaxed lately, and I've had time to think through what some of my training goals might be now. I have a couple things I'm working on with Jackson - some new behaviors/tricks and a new obedience exercise.

The new obedience exercise we are working on is the UKC directed retrieve/glove exercise. It's quite different than the AKC glove exercise so it's incorporating some new commands. I think learning a new exercise will keep both Jackson and me challenged. We have competed in UKC trials previously and Jackson has his UKC CDX title. I like UKC trials because they're usually quite a bit smaller and  more relaxed than AKC trials - at least in our area. If I do decide to enter a UKC trial later this year, it won't be the kind of pressure we've been under trying to get the other titles. I find though, that if I don't have some kind of plan or goal to work toward, I'm kind of at loose ends.

We had a fun match at the training club this morning. I did run throughs in both Open and Utility to see if I could see any improvement in the areas we've been working on lately. I was okay with both run-throughs, even though he didn't come on the first command from the down on the drop-on-recall exercise. Otherwise, he was staying with me pretty good on the heeling/figure 8 and he seemed more relaxed. I'm working on a behavior that will relax both of us in the ring between exercises - it's 'give me five' - having him offer me his paw. I see a lot of handlers doing jump and touch behaviors between exercises, and I tried to put 'touch' on command, but Jackson would never do it in the ring. However, he will sometimes raise his paw at me in training - usually when he's stressed and is trying to calm me : ) - so, I decided to try to put it on cue. He seems to like doing it and did it when I asked in the fun match today. I've heard some judges don't like handlers doing 'tricks' between exercises, but I'm not going to worry about that.

Now, for our other 'trick.' I've been looking for something that Jackson can do to entertain the residents when he goes on his therapy visits to the care center. The one I settled on was,  pick things up and put them in a basket. I've been trying to use the clicker to mark the breakdown of behaviors I'm training. However, I am not a 'clicker' trainer - at least not the kind that captures behaviors. I have found that I just don't have the patience to wait for a behavior to occur on it's own and then try to capture it. So, I'm using a lot of shaping and then I try to mark what I like using the clicker, and treat. Our first lesson was today. He knows the pick up part, and it was pretty easy to get him to bring it to the container. We need some work on the drop it in the container part. I ended up putting a treat to his nose so he would drop it to take the treat. (I was really off on my timing with the clicker though, as you will see in the video.)

Clicker trainers out there - if you have suggestions, please don't hesitate!


Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

Lance loves doing some tricks in the ring and most judges don't mind as long as your quick about it.

If you click will he drop it in expectation of his treat? If so I would click as soon as his head gets over the basket. And at first make it your drop to make sure it falls in. If he won't drop it when you click I would try to click and then bring his reward in front of his face so he drops it that way. I would try not to actually touch the object as that might be too hard to fade if he only learns to drop it when you grab it.

Or another idea would be if Jackson already knows to touch a target with his nose you could focus on having him take the object and bring it to the target to touch. It would completely bring you out of the picture and get that send portion down great before you transition to a basket. I've never taught it that way before but I like thinking about tricks in new ways.

Honey the Great Dane said... cute!!!! :-)

Sorry - we've been really busy what with work deadlines and little Muesli (!) so am only just catching up with friends now...

I agree with Laura about getting him to drop it without your hand there, otherwise he might never be able to do it without your hand! :-)

Have you not taught Jackson a "Drop It" command? I taught Honey that separately (from a puppy! Very useful for naughty puppy stealing!) - so I didn't have that issue with her when I was teaching this. My problem was getting her head over the basket!! At least Jackson is really good and head straights over. Honey just used to pick things up and then drop them again, without moving towards the basket at all!

Anyway, don't know if it would help (and tyou might have seen it already) but I taught Honey this same trick as well when we were still back in Auckland and I did a video of it - it's here if you're interested: (scroll down - it's the 3rd video)

In my case, because I had a problem with her aiming for the basket, I actually taught her to put it on a ledge first, up high near her head (less margin for error!) and then gradually changed that to a tray and then a box and finally to a basket. I also gradually increased the distance she had to go to for getting the things. But as you can see in the video, she took a LONG time to get it in the beginning and it was really frustrating! :-)

Oh, I did have one suggestion - I don't think you should let him take anything back out of the basket as that confuses things. I htink it's best to keep the action as a simple, straight one of always picking something up OUTside and bringing it over to put it IN the basket. Coz I had the same problem with Honey too (you can see in the video) of her trying to take things back out and getting confused - so they understand that the action should be pick up OUTside, put IN.

Good luck!

Honey the Great Dane said...

I forgot to add that I've taught Honey 2 separate commands: Drop It for just opening her mouth and dropping things straight onto the ground (useful when she picks up someting she shouldn't on walks!) and "Give" which means she must put the object in her mouth into my hand. She doesn't get rewarded otherwise. I'm sure Jackson probably knows a form of "Give" already from doing Obedience retrieve. But in this case, you want him to learn to Drop It instead.

Oh, and btw, I don't think Capturing and Shaping are mutually exclusive. Capturing is simply waiting for the dog to do the behaviour by chance, rather than using a food lure or body blocking to elicit a behaviour. So it's just about how you "got" the behaviour in the first place. Shaping is the process of gradually taking a small, slight behaviour and extending into a more fixed, specific one that you want. You can use capturing and still shape from there. In fact, often you wouldn't capture the full behaviour anyway - like how I taught Honey to "shimmy" - I just 'captured' any small shake of her head but then I gradually shaped it into a full body shake, in time to me wriggling my shoulders.

It's like people always think you have to choose between luring or shaping for clicker training - some purists even don't consider it proper clicker training unless you shape everything! I don't think it matters - whatever get results! I use shaping for some tricks and luring for others.