Saturday, December 18, 2010

Cues and Precision

Today's training group discussion?

Precision and cues and discrimination. We talked about so much that it's really hard to think about it all and remember all the details. And instead of coming away with answers, I have more questions and confusion and decisions to make.

A list of today's exciting and questioning moments.

1. How much perfect cue-response is needed in agility? Is it beneficial to have obstacles on complete verbal control? On visual cues only with minimal exaggeration? And even though we don't need that, it has to help with fluency to some extent. And so is it a beneficial exercise, or at least for Griffin?
2. What are handling systems really about? I'm an instructor! I've been an enthusiast for years! But I still can't adequately evaluate or explain agility handling systems. The benefits, yes. Consistent cueing!
3. How do we efficiently teach fine discriminations? Not so fine discriminations? There's a lot of theory and I've made and used a lot of training plans. But I don't know what's really most efficient or what holds the strongest! How important is it if I use two different reinforcers? If we start with the obstacles close together or far away? If we only train one, only the other, and gradually mix up what we're cueing for?
4. If we're sending a dog on a line and something is just off to the side, is the dog really going ahead to the jump and learning about leaving things and jumping, or is he just doing what was reinforced so many times? When is it best to add stimulus control?
5. With stimulus control and a table, do you reinforce as the dog is on the table, jumping for it, or lying down? Do we degrade or loose our down performance if we click the jump? If we wait for the auto (and fast) down, is it less efficient than clicking for the jump?
6. Are Griffin and I suffering from poor recalls? a "poor relationship"? Poor obstacle focus? Poor sequence training? Or poor fluency?! Or poor cuing?!
7. Where does Kay Laurence's -train at home to high levels of fluency and then my dog performs well in trials- piece come in? Why do so many have trouble replicating that?

When I started learning about dog training...there was so much to learn. And now I know a lot. And not as much info is new to me. But all these fine little pieces! It's so hard to know exactly what the options are and what the results are. And no one seems to have certain answers. Every training session and every class and every workshop has me going home with more questions, confusion, and too much training to do. Behavior is so simple and so complicated!

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