Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Training Tuesday: Trick 1- Prairie Dog!

One of my goals for the year is to teach Maisy twelve tricks. Today, I bring you the first one: Prairie Dog!

My husband chose the cue word, which is good, because I would probably have chosen something boring like “beg.” Nothing wrong with that, of course, but I do appreciate fun cues for fun behaviors, and I’m horrible at coming up with them. The hand signal is my right hand held palm up and moved towards Maisy/away from my body.

I have to confess, I taught this trick with luring. I tend to prefer shaping behaviors, but luring just made so much sense for this one. I was careful to do it right, and only used the lure half a dozen times or so before moving to air cookies. I did air cookies for a session or two (so maybe 10-15 reps- I didn’t write it down, and should have), then switched to the hand signal.

Once she was reliably sitting up for the hand signal, I started adding the verbal cue. Since I was curious how long it would take her to figure it out, I kept good records on this. In her book The Thinking Dog, Gail Fisher says that it takes 25 to 50 reps to attach a verbal cue to a behavior. Initially, I thought Maisy was going to do well, because performed the behavior following the verbal cue only on the 23rd time. Unfortunately, that must have been a fluke, because she didn’t do it again until the 57th time!

Here’s the video of trials 56 to 65:


Out of those ten times, she only got it on the verbal three times. (I didn’t reward the offered behavior between trials 7 and 8 because Gail says that once you name a behavior, you should only reinforce the dog when you’ve asked for the behavior. This is supposed to help get behaviors under stimulus control.) During the next ten times, Maisy got it on the verbal cue 9 out of 10 times- and that was in a room I hadn’t trained in at all! Therefore, I’m going to call this behavior done!

11 comments:

Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

Very nice! She already has pretty good duration too! Now to work on squats :)

Crystal said...

Laura, I found that as long as I held my hand in the cuing position, she'd remain up! She has some pretty amazing abs for a long-backer. What I really ought to do is work on adding some distance so that I can get pictures.

Catalina said...

That is so cute! She does a great job too!

Dawn said...

Nice. I have been trying to get squats with the boy and havent figured that out yet.

Joanna said...

Psst, you lean forward every time you give the verbal cue. ;) It is super hard not to give subtle signals like that, though. You still did a good job teaching that trick! Maisy looks very cute sitting up like that. :)

Crystal said...

Joanna, shhhhh. Although I see it in the video, I didn't realize I was doing it at the time. I think she's cuing off it, though- she seems to go up when I lean a certain amount. Now I'm trying to decide if I care enough to clean it up. I don't, really, but it would probably be a good learning experience for me.

Ettel, Charlie Poodle, and Emma Pitty said...

That's really great. It's taking me a long time to teach it to Charlie, as it's physically difficult for him to keep the position. So we're doing a lot of luring to just build his muscles up, since it's an unnatural position for him, though we're slowly moving to air cookies.

One of my favorite verbal cues is when I ask him "who's your Queen?" and he gives me a bow ;-)

Ninso said...

Very nice! She has great core strength! 25-50!! Wow! I need to keep that in mind when I'm putting my dogs' behaviors on cue. With Lok as my first dog, I start getting frustrated if they aren't picking up a verbal cue after 5-10 reps!

Crystal said...

Maisy has always naturally stood up on her hind legs to investigate things (counters, tables, etc.), so I guess that's where she developed her core strength.

Ninso, I actually think Maisy generalizes easier than learns verbal cues. She took, what, 60 or 70 reps before she got it (and even then, I'm wondering if she's cuing off my body movement more than anything), whereas I worked on this trick only in the living room, but she was still able to respond flawlessly in the bedroom.

Sophie said...

Wow, she looks so cute doing it! And she figured out what you wanted pretty fast. I'm trying (that, of course, being the operative word) to teach Lola to beg to the cue 'Meerkat.' Given my procrastinating nature, this isn't going too great, but I think you've inspired us. :)

Kristine said...

Good for you! I'd call this done as well. She looks so cute and happy.

When I taught this to Shiva, I used the word "beg". We are all about the boring verbal cues in this house, apparently. I am going to have to work on that.