Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Technical Training

The more technical and precise aspects of training are so exciting.

"Being wrong" came up again last night. And a few days ago in regards to a human student. And another two-legged student last night. This dog owner has never been told by me that s/he is incorrect. I'm careful to "Now, we'll make it harder and..." But s/he's apparently so worried the team almost didn't come to class! The dog is very focused and they're both very proficient... but I got several comments about the owner being worried on doing "everything right". Next week we might try them on a tether and see how it goes.

And more technical-ness. Cues! And indicating what is next!
We had a short talk last night about how to cue dogs that we're working on something different. My usual strategy is to 'break' from what we've been doing with walking around for a bit ( can be a minute or more, but I usually go about 10-15 seconds), a bit of petting, or just moving to another area.

I'm really not a fan of running through every behavior the dog knows 2-3 times each. It makes people feel good. I tell students they should do this if they've had a bad day at work or if they want to show off for friends. But it's really poor dog training. We want to work on developing strong behaviors and reliable responses. A few repetitions won't allow much learning and new brain connections to be happening (...see my post from a few weeks ago on repetition).

At the same time, doing one aspect for 5-10 or 15+ repetitions and then going right into something else can cause confusion for the dog... without an indication of the change...the criteria suddenly completely changed. And what just worked is now not working and confusion is never good.

There are probably more scientific type resources on that. But I don't have them. (yet).

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