Saturday, March 5, 2011

Recall Training

At vet conference, during one of Ken’s talks, there was a bit of a talk on recalls. He showed videos of the dogs in his “Pet Training the Shedd Way” show. They had great recalls, their buzzer sounded and the dog would careen around the facility in search of the person with the buzzer. The dogs ran with enthusiasm and speed. They were so happy.

And then he showed another video of animals being recalled. Same type of buzzer. The animals would immediately start seeking the buzzer. They would leave their encloser, training sessions, interacting with others, and just like when we play hide and seek and the dogs run past and turn back, these animals did it too. It was sea lions!

I was amazed. And so we talked about this at the Thursday night class when we worked on recalls. The points I made, summarized from what we talked about at the vet conference:

  • Use high value reinforcers. We want to pay well to get enthusiasm and speed and to develop a history of reinforcmenet.
  • Do many repetitions. We need a ton of reps to get the animals to have a strong history of reinforcement.
  • Keep your cue clean. Don’t use it unless you’re training until well after the behavior is established. We want perfect association of cue, behavior, and reinforcer.
  • Develop a strong foundation: By doing all of the above. Instead of making things harder and harder and harder because the animal is doing well, be sure your animal is doing really, really, really, really well. And then advance.

And so, I came home to be more diligent about recalls. I want my dogs to do sea lion recalls too. The funny part is that I know all these things. It's not really anything new. It's just remembering to do things and keeping it all together. Here's a post I made last spring saying pretty much the same things. Just not quite as concise or appropriate.

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