Today before I left for class, I worked on nose targeting a target stick with both dogs. This particular target stick came with the Manners Minder and has a base that makes it into a verticle target (although I may stick it into something else, because the base is tippy and it throws both dogs off after an enthusiastic nose touch).
Perrin understood immediately that the game was about the target stick, and that it involved his face. The only problem is that he thought that he should take it, rather than touch it with his nose. We had to step backwards from where I thought we could start, to clean up the nose touching. I want nose touches of the foam target only. No grabbing the stick, no biting the foam ball, no licking. Once I clear up that understanding, I think the rest of the training (adding it to the base, moving the base around, adding distance, adding a cue) will likely progress more smoothly as Perrin is fairly familiar with those things. Well, other than adding a cue. I never assume that will go well. (NOTE TO SELF: check TEAM rules to see if I can set up the target stick when I need it. Then I can just use the context cue of the target stick being in the training space for the time being).
Sei picked up the nose targeting super duper fast. He has a very limited repertoire of behaviours at the moment, none of which has a huge reinforcement history behind it. However nose touches with my hand have one of the stronger histories (second only to sitting). His first guess on what to do with the target stick was to nose touch it, and he was quickly following the stick around to new positions to touch it. Good start!
Today we did a few more key retrieves. I didn’t hide them under anything today, but we moved into the kitchen. He also practiced some basic stays with Sei.
I also went through TEAM1 requirements to see what holes/skills I need to work on with Perrin to put the whole performance together.
- Vertical Target: I have taught a general nose touch, and he will foot target just about anything as a first shaping attempt, but nothing vertical. I think I will take the vertical target from the Manners Minder and work on putting a vertical target behaviour on cue
- Backing Up: Perrin knows how to back up but he does it in fits and starts rather than cleanly if he is backing away from me rather than in heel position. I will likely have to re-teach it to get it clean enough.
- Sends: Another thing that he knows, but just is not as clean as I would like it. I think that my cue is bad, because he offers it beautifully if I set a cone down to shape with it, but he is slow and unenthusiastic if I cue it. I will have to refine this one a bit.
Other than those, I think the behaviours are solid. That does not mean it will be easy to get it all together into the videos. It will require many takes. I will screw up. Perrin will screw up. Sei will cry too loud to hear me in the video. This will likely be a winter project. Maybe this weekend I will do a mock run through to establish a baseline.
The boring basics were the name of the game today. Discriminating between ‘sit’ and ‘spin’. Sits. Sit stays. Adding a cue to a down when I could capture it. We did a little shaping for targeting a platform, which he did great with! He just seems to understand shaping now in a way that he did not before. He is much more intentional in his movements, and you can see the wheels turn in his head; he is starting to actually understand how the game works.
School has gotten busy and we had house guests over the weekend, so my recording of our dog activities has been anything but consistant.
Perrin has been continuing to work on his fitness activities, and some fun things like working on ‘find my keys’. He is so happy doing service dog type tasks. I’m not sure why exactly, but asking him to go retrieve my mittens or my keys is done with much more joy and enthusiasm than he has if we try to play fetch with a ball for fun. I wonder if it is me. When he does something for me that helps me out, I am genuinely appreciative on top of letting him know “hey, that thing you did was super cool!”.Maybe he feels that and it works as a reinforcer? We also started hidden keys for the first time and he rocked it! Way better than what I had prepared him for (which, to be honest, was nothing). Who knows. We are still waiting to get his novice parkour results back, but after seeing a video on the facebook page that was failed because of a lure, I realized that I did something similar in several of my clips. Basically having a treat in your hand counts as a lure depending on where you are standing, regardless of if you are using your hand motion or just standing there. Good to know! Maybe we will work on it again later when I have access to environmental features again.
Sei has really reached a brain growth spurt or something. Ever since he came home, he has been super clear about when he is ready to work on things. I can push and break things down tiny and work on a skill for weeks, and get very little accomplished, or I can wait until he reaches the right developmental stage and he picks it up in moments. His most recent ‘readiness’ has been verbals. I had been working on adding a verbal to a spin that was on a hand signal for weeks, and never made any progress. Downs I was working on adding a verbal to by capturing with similar results. On Friday, he suddenly put it all together and now CONSISTENTLY has spins AND downs on a verbal cue! I was shocked! Perrin learns verbals much differently, and it takes quite a lot of work with him to get anywhere near the level of consistency that Sei had within 10 minutes of doing the behaviour on a verbal cue for the first time. Its really interesting to compare their different learning styles and strengths. He also suddenly understood shaping this morning in a way that he did not before. We have also been working on sit stays, tugging and a tiny bit of loose leash walking. I really need to get him a collar to start teaching pressure yielding.
I think that Sei is going to be a lesson in ‘waiting until the dog is ready’. I feel like we are behind other dogs his age, but trying to push training was sucking the fun out of it for me and frustrating him, so I had quit working on specific things and started just playing and working on life/house skills. I struggled with feeling guilty/behind/like a bad trainer over not teaching him all sorts of new skills in that time while other people and their puppies were doing all sorts of cool tricks and foundations for their sports. But now Sei is learning those things at warp speed and with joy instead of frustration. I just need to trust him to let me know when he is ready and we will get where we want to go 🙂 I keep reminding myself that Perrin didn’t know anything beyond pet things until he was almost 2 and he learned all sorts of amazing things in a year. It really takes the pressure off.
Today we worked on more nosework (no video, camera died), did flirt pole work with Sei and Perrin did some more fitness work (Sei got to try a bit too):
More nosework and a title submission today!
I finally got all of Perrin’s novice parkour videos sorted, edited and uploaded today. We had everything, so I decided to submit it! I will find out in a month if he passed. One thing I learned is that I clearly have an issue with interpretation. For every video, I wanted to ask for about 100 clarifications of the rules to ensure the video met them (they are a little bit vague on the website). I figured that doing that wasn’t really necessary, and I could likely assume that if I was following the rules in good faith (and I did pick through each video to make sure there were no rule violations and that the requirements were met), then the judges are reasonable people who are not out to nit-pick people in to failing. Ah, programming I am still trying to undo from many years of school. I put all the videos together into one for ease of watching purposes:
We also did another few sessions of nosework today. Sei is definitely getting the game, so we moved on to the second game (putting the tin on the ground) and took the game to different parts of the house and even the yard! I added a cold tin by the end of the day, and did a quick session like that. He did really well. Its the first time I have seen him think about a problem on his own when he didn’t get clicked and keep going instead of stopping and staring at me. I’m hoping this will be a good confidence builder for him training/shaping wise.
Perrin continues to be really solid, not moving away from the odour. I added a cold tin, and he resumed his bad habit of picking up the cold tin and carrying it with him until he finds the hot tin. He gets the game, so I will likely move to putting the tins in containers soon (then I will only have to deal with him stepping on them!).
Today Perrin got to play with the new Toto Fit Infinity that we won! It arrived today and I promptly got it filled and figured out a way to stabilize it with the things I had. (Shhh, I will put the living room back to the way it was before my husband sees!)
He loves this stuff so much. Cute boy!
We also started working on nosework. This is completely new to Sei and the method is new for Perrin, however Perrin has been taught this before another way. I decided to try the exercise from the sample lecture of the FDSA NW101 course (which I am hoping to take in the October session if finances allow). The gist of this exercise is to have odour in one hand and food in the other, C/T when the dog shows interest in the odour, then feed at source. This sounds very simple, but I had several mechanical issues while trying to execute this.
- Moving the odour hand and the food hand to the middle to reward, rather than bringing my food hand all the way over
- Holding my odour hand too high for the dog to eat out of, then dropping it to the dog to feed
- Letting Sei sit too long when he went to his default behaviour of ‘sit still and stare at me’ rather than resetting promptly
- Dropping treats trying to feed at source while also holding a clicker. Different treats could help this too.
These mistakes and more can all be found in both dog’s videos, but are more obvious in Sei’s because Perrin understands the game, and is confident to keep pressing forwards so covers my mistakes. (Also he is bigger, so I had less issue holding the odour too high to feed him at).
Perrin clearly remembered what wintergreen is! I don’t think he made one mistake the whole time. He can step up to the next level next time we try.
This was Sei’s first try at anything like this. The first time I made all of the above mistakes, but the one that hindered us the most was me sitting still. I added some more motion the second time we tried, and he rocked it! We will keep going with this exercise for a few more days at least and see where we get with that.
There is a semi-local ORT test in early November, and I’m thinking I may enter Sei and see how he does. I am even more uncertain about Perrin, because I also want to submit his Novice Parkour videos and I really only have the budget to do one. We will see what I decide.
Beyond that we also continued working on spins with both dogs, toys with Sei, as well as him catching food out of the air. But that last one is mainly because it amuses me 😛
Today was a play skills kind of day! And Sei even caught his first piece of thrown food today. Woohoo!
Today we started working on the homework material for Toys- Building Cooperation and Play homework. I took a baseline of his one-ball retrieve:
And worked on the Two Ball Game for the first time actually following the damn instructions (oops):
I thought about half way through that he looked like he had to pee. When he checks out of playing, I have noticed that most of the time he is checking out to relieve himself. So I tried waiting a minute, then he didn’t pee so I continued. The first thing he did when we finished and I walked over to stop the camera? Peed where he stood. Yup, should have listened to my instincts.
Other than that, I am very happy with how he did with this! It is light years ahead of where we left it about a month ago. He is also really starting to know what my marker word ‘chase’ means; a few times after I say it, he runs out ahead of the ball, expecting it to be thrown.
I picked up some lotus balls when I was in the states to bring Sei home, and I still hadn’t tried them with Perrin! They are a soft ball that has three ‘petals’ that velcro together, and a pocket inside that holds a piece of food. Some dogs open them on their own, and other dogs bring the ball back to the handler to be opened. I was curious to see which one Perrin would be!
So we went out to the yard with the lotus ball and a baggie of meatloaf pieces and tried it out. Turns out that Perrin is a retriever! He LOVED it, and it took him about 2 throws to be immediately turning back to bring me the ball, rather than rolling it around with his nose trying to see if anything would fall out of it. We went until I ran out of meatloaf, and Perrin was still happy to keep going. This is going to be a great tool!
Unfortunately I don’t have video of this, because my camera died.
We had a ‘life skills’ training highlight today! Sei was unsure of big dogs barking in his basic obedience class. So every time that Perrin barks at home, I mark it and we run to the fridge to get a cookie. Today, I was sitting inside at the table watching Sei sniff around the back yard when Perrin started barking at the garbage truck at the other end of the house. Sei perked right up, focused on me, and bolted to me. We had a party and went to the fridge to get cookies. (And Perrin quit barking and came and joined us). Awesome!
In line with the goals I wrote about yesterday, here is my first step towards them:
I went back into my FDSA library, and pulled up the shaping lectures. I started right back at the begining with just clicking for any motion that was no sitting and staring at me.
This was my plan:
- Throw treat to get Sei started
- Once Sei is done chewing, click for any motion
Here is the unedited video of our progress on that today:
Wow, that was really hard! Sei is not obvious about when he is done chewing and I have a hard time watching ‘all’ of him for the next movement. And he is so little and fast! Lots of improvement to be made on my end here.
Today I went though our parkour footage and identified behaviours I had no footage of at all. For today that was ‘In’ and a sequence with three obstacles.
He looks so happy! My sweet puff. Tomorrow I will see what manoeuvres I have recorded, but may need to be re-done.
The August term of Fenzi classes ended yesterday. Taking two golds, two in person classes, and a bronze, all while starting back at university left me little time to document here too. I’m finding I am a little burnt out! So I decided that for the October session, I am going to take my first semester off since I found FDSA. I figure with over 25 courses in my library, I can find something to work on.
This was hard. There are so many classes we could work on right now. Get Focused, Relationship Building Through Play, Engagement, Shaping, Toys – Developing Cooperation and Play, Empowerment, Co-op Care, Baby Genius (because it kind of slipped off the radar in August. Oops), Obedience Starter Games, so many choices! To narrow it down, I decided to choose one from each of these categories:
- Relationship Building
- Life Skills
- Training Skills
This let me narrow it down to
- Toys – Developing Cooperation and Play
- Baby Genius
- I have done a bit of shaping with Sei, and have observed that his brain works much differently than Perrin’s (unsurprisingly, they are very different dogs!). I also learned that a lot of my ‘shaping skills’ are actually ‘how to shape Perrin’ skills. I decided that it would be beneficial for all three of us for me to go back and re-do the class that started it all, and work through it from the beginning with Sei rather than relying on my Perrin-specific mechanics.
I may sneak some quick nose work fundamentals in there too, because I have a sneaking suspicion that Sei will enjoy it. I wanted to run through the whole course, but we have more pressing things to be working on.
Perrin’s interest in training sky rocketed once he was no longer the only dog in the house. He has been a little short changed lately with the puppy, so I want to get some plans going for him as well. I have just finished up the last class portion of the Canine Fitness Trainer program, and need to start on my case studies. Perrin has a lot of ‘in the works’ things: I would like to finish up his novice parkour title, get started on his cyber rally and cyber freestyle skills and videos, start shaping the last few tricks for his master trick dog title, start filming his TEAM 1 videos, as well as make some progress on cooperative care skills. Looking at what is likely to happen between now and the middle of November, as well as what is the most pressing, I decided on:
- Completing Perrin’s case study as one of the four I need for my Fitness Trainer Certificate
- This will require me to decide which area’s I would like to work on with Perrin, develop a program for him, follow it and document his progress and his results. I would like to get this done before it snows, because I do not have much in the way of indoor equipment.
- Shaping 1 new trick for his master trick dog title
- This will go well with me going back to basics with Sei’s shaping in terms of time commitment
- Finish the videos for Perrin’s novice parkour title.
- I have most of the videos taken, and even though I don’t have much access to different environmental features here, I have enough video footage ‘in the wild’ that I can meet the title requirements by finishing the last few skills in my back yard.
I have goals, whoohoo! Now to make a schedule and a plan…