Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Training Tuesday: Three Things

On Retrieves and Jackpots
Maisy still doesn’t have a formal obedience retrieve, and while we may never get the opportunity to use one, I still want to teach it. It’s been a good exercise for me- it’s really helped me pay attention to my timing, criteria, and rate of reinforcement, but that’s all beside the point. I’ve been using Shirley Chong’s method to shape a retrieve, and overall, it’s been going well, but I’ve struggled to add duration to the hold, so that’s one thing we’ve worked on lately.

Now, when I work with Maisy- on any task- I often toss treats on the ground away from me to help reset the exercise. I’ve also mentioned before that I use jackpots while shaping, and my typical method is to click, toss a treat, and then verbally tell her how smart she is as I continue to toss treats, one at a time, on the floor for about ten seconds. Then we return to the exercise.

Last week, while working on holding objects for longer periods of time, Maisy did a lovely four second hold. I clicked and tossed a treat, which Maisy found, then looked at me, eager to start the next rep. I belatedly realized that, hey, that was pretty good, and murmured, “Nice!” The second I said that, Maisy immediately began searching the floor for more treats.

Apparently, I have a jackpot marker.

The Come! Go! Game
I’ve been wanting to write about the Come! Go! Game for a long time, but it’s better with video. It’s also been hard to get video of it, but today, I finally have some! It’s not the best example, but here it is:

The Come! Go! Game is basically the Premack Principle at work. Premack says that you can reinforce a low-probability behavior (coming) with a high-probability behavior (running away). Interestingly, as you do this, the low-probability behavior gains value, and the high-probability behavior loses value.

You can totally see this happening in this video. At first, Maisy runs far away, and quickly, when I tell her “Go!” But, as the game goes on, she not only quits running as far, she also takes several cues to take off running. This happens every single time we play the game. The first few reps are enthusiastic, and then she decides it’s more fun to stay near me, which in the end, is exactly what I want anyway.

However, it does mean that if I ever train an obedience go-out, I can’t use “go!” as a cue.

The Stuff I’m Supposed to be Working On
Last week, at our re-check with the vet behaviorist, we agreed that I’d start working on counter-conditioning Maisy to everyday noises around the house. I have failed miserably at this. It seems like I never have treats handy when I need them, and at the end of the day, I’m too tired to get up and grab some.

I’m posting this publicly in an effort to embarrass myself into doing it. I've already put a glass jar with treats (glass so neither canine nor feline can chew it open) and put it in the living room where I spend most of my time. I've also stashed a clicker there, because even though a clicker isn’t the best tool for counter-conditioning, there are times where it can be helpful.

Next Training Tuesday, I want you all to shame me if I don’t report progress on this, okay?


Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

Oooh, I am so happy you're teaching a formal retrieve! The hold is the hardest part, but if you're up to 4seconds you're almost done! I think the first 3 seconds are the hardest to get but then it's smooth sailing. Very funny about the jackpot word :)

I watched the video before I ready your comments on the go and totally thought of an obedience go out! And then I kept watching and became sad because you totally ruined it!!! Sigh.

I will join you in your quest to counter condition. Vito needs work on calming himself when he hears someone come home upstairs. He can not control himself and I tell him to shut up he just starts shaking because he can't do it. I need to get off my lazy butt and do some training. So be doubly shamed if I actually do it and you don't!

Crystal said...

Oh, I'm glad to hear the hold is the hardest part. We sailed through picking up objects, but have been stuck on duration forever. It hasn't helped that I was getting a paw lift mixed in with it, so I've spent a fair amount of time (with mixed success at best) getting rid of that. Like I said... it's been teaching me about timing.

Although I haven't been teaching a go out, I'm hoping that it will be easier if/when we get around to working on it. I mean, at least she understands the concept of running away from me on cue, right? Even if it isn't nice and straight and formal and stuff. Then again, if I just told her to sit, there's a decent chance she'd do it. Of course, it'd be a crazy, barky, spastic go out... but it MIGHT be enough to pass. Well, no need to worry about that right now.

Thanks for your efforts to double shame me! Just putting the treats here has gotten me to start. I've had a few opportunities already. Funny how it's the simplest things, huh?

Ninso said...

I had the hardest time with Lok's hold! It's still not great either. I think it took me about 6 months and as many methods to get just the first few seconds. But I agree with Laura, if you're up to 4 it should go pretty quickly from there. I ended up having to abandon pure free shaping and lightly hold Lok's mouth with one hand and the dumbell with the other hand before he started to get it. Jun on the other hand was super easy. She will hold anything as long as I want. The hard part with her was getting her to sit with an object in her mouth! They all have their quirks and challenges!

Crystal said...

Yesterday's session didn't go as well. She did a lot of grab-and-drop at first. Eventually I got a good 2 second hold, but ugh. That was frustrating. But! At least I didn't get that goofy paw lift at the same time!

And I totally did some counter-conditioning last night. Lots of it. Mostly with cat-stuff, not other noises, but that seems like a good place to start.

Kristen said...

That first piece of hold IS hard. I REALLY wish I had those sessions with Griffin on video.

One thing we were told early on was to teach a sticky-target and that could help transfer to the hold as the dog has the concept of 'staying there'.

With two of my dogs, I found that a moving hold was easier than a stationary hold.

Griffin likes the paw lift too. It comes in handy if you decide to teach a front leg lift....

Crystal said...

Hmmm.... maybe I'll grab some video. Not a bad idea, anyway. I'll probably learn something embarrassing but helpful in the process. :)

Kristine said...

I love playing that game with my dog. It has helped our recall immensely. The only thing to do now, is playing it around stange dogs as a distraction. Unfortunately we have not quite worked up to that level yet.

Since we aren't training for obedience, I haven't worried about what words I use so much. So far this game hasn't ruined her agility "get out", in fact I think it has helped remind her I exist after performing an obstacle on course.

I haven't heard of this method for teaching retrieve. We've only just started working on it since we've started flyball. Shiva is not a natural retriever in any sense. I will have to take a look at this. Thanks!

And good luck with your own training!

Ninso said...

I just read through part of Shirley Chong's retrieve method. Wow, she never actually teaches a "hold" until the very end! She just frames the hold out of the picture and instead teaches a release to hand and a carry. And instead of working duration on the hold once the dog has a grip, she works on lifting the dumbbell further and further off the ground. Interesting!! I want to try this method with Elo!! What step are you on?

Crystal said...

Kristine- We play the come! go! game off leash in novel environments (while hiking when we don't expect to see any dogs). If I play it each time we go hiking, she'll come even if a dog does show up, but she does need several practicie sessions first.

Ninso- I haven't followed Shirley Chong's method PERFECTLY. We went through step 20 (pick it up from the floor, and drop in my hand), skipped step 21 (where you make it hard for the dog to accidentally drop it in your hand), then worked on step 22 for awhile (distance). I have not given it a name yet, though, and instead have been working on duration. Maybe I'll go back and actually do step 21, and then add the cue "give" and see if that helps with my duration.

Ninso said...

Yeah, Step 21 seemed like it would be the hardest one. I've always had a hard time getting a dog to do things consciously that they are only doing accidentally or because I'm making it super easy to do it. I could see this step being a sticking point for sure, but I can also see how it might be good to put it before the hold in some cases. You kind of build a hold without building it.

What about trying to get her to do other things while holding the dumbbell so she will hold it longer incidentally? If she's doing the distance, she should be holding it for several seconds to get it to you. What about backing up when she gets to you or asking her for a sit? As Kristen has found, a "moving hold" was easier at first for Jun. Took her mind off the dumbbell in her mouth.

Retrieving is so much fun! The tricks you can use it for are endless! Plus you have your very own service dog! Jun picks up everything I drop and hands it to me!

Crystal said...

I was able to get the hold for distance (only a few feet- two or three), and at one time, she could sit while holding it, but it's been awhile since I've done either one.

The thing I love about training is that there are SO many ways to approach something. If one stalls out, you can always try another!!

Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

Vito used to go into the beg position when holding a dumbbell. it took forever for me to get rid of it!

For the formal retrieve I teach the hold last. I first teach picking it up, then targeting to my hand with a strong thrust into it, then grab and turn (taken from my hand, put in my hand, which incidently is the first "hold" the dog learns since they have to take it from me for the first time), walking with it in heel, and then the mighty hold while not moving! It's just my personal preference as I hate training the actual hold in front. I have about 6 methods i routinely use to teach a hold as I want a lot of options to experiment with.

Crystal said...

Laura, the beg is HILARIOUS. Suddenly, that doesn't make my paw lift seem so bad.

Raegan said...

Oh! Gatsby and I play the Come and Go game all the time! And I've seen the /exact/ same results, after about three reps it's hard to get him to go away from me. I could never figure it out, but now it's like "Duh!"

Crystal said...

Raegan, thanks for sharing. That's really cool/interesting that you're seeing the same thing.