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?