Friday, May 27, 2011

Seminar Day 7: Puppies and Focus

Today was a lot of "more of the same" but we had a new group of attendees. We had a group of people who train agility together in another part of the state. They were concerned about their dogs lack of tug/play as well as focus challenges.

For the tug and play, the sessions focused on reinforcing the dog for picking up the item (not the bring back!). And using the higher value reinforcers to reinforce the best performances, rather than pulling out the favorite toys only when the dogs are doing poorly or aren't interested in other things offered. For the dogs that would tug a tiny bit, we would click for a smaller tiny bit and then release the toy. Wanting too much from the dogs was a common theme of the week.

To address the focus challenges, we did some exercises similar to Susan Garrett's crate games. Opening the crate and clicking and feeding the dog for staying in. And then more clicking and feeding for the dog focusing on the owner as the dog was called out. If the dog responded incorrectly or wandered off....silently taken back to the crate. After a number of reps, the dogs were taken outside for a short walk break. We saw FAST change in the dogs.... coming back inside after the walks, they were much, much more focused.

It was intriguing to see some of that group comment they had not previously realized exactly what a high rate of reinforcement really was.

In the evening, we had a guest-taught puppy class. We did a handler hide and call the puppy game. A walking game. Platform/mat training. And play. Puppies are cute. The people had a unique experience. I got to see how much their training is used for puppies compared to the adult sport dogs. Much of the VERY VERY same stuff. It's all important.

Watching the puppies and enthusiasm made several of the auditing/observing group comment we want puppies. We decided that we'll be getting puppies in the spring, two years from now. Hah. We'll see if I'm ready then.

I left my notes at the building....but...I'll be back there early tomorrow.

My favorite note from yesterday.... the translation/description of Griffin's tail wagging problem... "Waggering" It makes me laugh every time.

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