Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Griffin at CD Prep Class IV

We're almost done with class!  I miss the next two weeks and then one week left.   Somehow I mis-counted when I registered, I thought I would miss one class and just the very last week.  My counts were very off!

Tonight half the class was away at big shows, there were just two of us present. I almost had stayed at Training Group (in air conditioning!), but was a good student and came despite the 90* weather.

We started with some big looping heeling.  This was the easiest thing for me. I like being able to go and reinforce the specifics I like. Griffin did well with it. I was careful to stop to let him eat the treats and then only walk forward once he was ready.

Our next heeling activity was taking steps forward and then steps sideways.  This went well but it's so hard to do without turning my head or shoulders.  I don't like having to turn to see that he is parallel. I'm fairly confident on when he is parallel if we are going in a straight line, but when we're doing sidepasses, I don't trust Griffin to keep his back feet tucked in yet.

The following exercise was a big surprise to me, I was sure Griffin would do it.  We were supposed to get spins in both directions while heeling, and then add it into turning corners.  He is 100% in front of me and was 8% next to me. We tried to quick re-get, some in front, somewhat angles, and then next to me.   Not so great.  

We did a few sets of stays, some by ourself, the other dog doing Beginner Novice stays, and then some group stays.   The group stays...we had a brand new dog sit next to Griffin, he started moving to the dog twice...we moved a bit further away and he was good. He broke his eye contact to me a few times to watch things going on, but quickly looked back.  One almost-whine and a bit of shifting his head and front feet.

Stand for Exams: We did a few passes with the instructor walking a path 4' away. Horray.  Griffin did not move in response to her.  But he did move after I marked and before I could get up to him to feed. I was moving too fast going back to reinforce.

Figure 8's were interesting, the instructor does it a bit differently than me, cueing the turns 2-3 steps earlier than what I had been doing.   It was a little hard to adjust to... I'll experiment with this a little to see which works better.

Last was a few sets of recalls, what the instructor titles "Fun Recalls" and then a real one.   I'm not doing recalls to me and between my legs, I want him coming to me with his head up, no ducking down thoughts ever.  And I find the other variations painful....walk forward and back to the dog.  Release and run around.  Get the dog excited, yet stationary, and release to a tossed treat.   It felt messy at times, like he was watching my unintentional body language more than my intended cues.

We'll get to do some more training at camps over the next few weeks.  We aren't forgetting our obedience while we're gone.

A few thoughts after class:
- Some of the heeling activities ("Drills") and recall activities are to get us to be unpredictable and fun.  While Fun is never a bad thing.... I'm conflicted on the unpredictable part. I can understand the benefits and the long tradition of this being part of dog training.  But it's a bit painful for me. I think I want my dog to know what is next, I want him to be able to predict so he can respond to cues as quickly and immediately as possible, without having to think.   Or is the benefit of being able to respond to cues no matter what order, variable, etc....   more worthwhile?
- As I've mentioned recently.... markers are important.   In the first week of class, I tried to just reinforce things the way the instructor wanted. I don't want to be a trouble maker.  But without a distinct marker, my dog was watching my hands too much and trying to predict when my hand would move to his mouth.   Since then I've been trying hard to use a good verbal marker.  Things have improved.
- Stays:   Are progressing. Slowly.

6 comments:

Erin said...

I don't think unpredicatable is necessarily a bad thing. A lot of dogs will get bored or in a routine when doing obedience, and will start ignoring you and just do what you think you want them to do next regardless of what you cue. I think its good for them to know that things can change and they need to keep paying attention, epsecially because when you want to change things up a dog that predicts will run into a lot of trouble.

Kristen said...

Is "Bored" because it's predictable or because the criteria is too high/quality or rate of reinforcement too low? Wouldn't that be the case if the dog is ignoring the human? If the dog is responding to the next piece of the chain but without the cue, wouldn't that be a cue/stimulus control problem that needs to be addressed?

It's my understanding that the trainers at Canis(www.canis.no) utilize anticipation... to teach stimulus control and so that the dogs are ready and able to respond to the next cue as soon as possible. After seeing their presentation at Expo in 2008 I have not been afraid of anticipation like I once was!

Kristen said...

Not that your comments are wrong or unimportant....definitely very valid points.

Hence my conflict!

Erin said...

Hm, some interesting thoughts. I guess it also depends on your purpose. For Guide Dogs, anticipation can get them into trouble. But for many canine sports it can be a good thing.

Kristen said...

You're so right...there definitely are variables for the training tasks.

That said, for sports we typically are only wanting anticipation in the training phase...so that we can get the behavior on cue and then on stimulus control.

Raegan said...

"I'm conflicted on the unpredictable part. I can understand the benefits and the long tradition of this being part of dog training. But it's a bit painful for me. I think I want my dog to know what is next, I want him to be able to predict so he can respond to cues as quickly and immediately as possible, without having to think. Or is the benefit of being able to respond to cues no matter what order, variable, etc.... more worthwhile?"

"That said, for sports we typically are only wanting anticipation in the training phase...so that we can get the behavior on cue and then on stimulus control."

I think I would lean toward predictability and anticipation in the early stages. Particularly gearing up for a dog or handler's first time in Novice. My observation is that in Novice A, the trouble dogs and people run into isn't boredom, it's unpreparedness.

Boredom is more of an ongoing campaign problem (showing twice a day most weekends chasing OTCH points or UDX legs) than a CD/CDX/UD problem, I think. By the time a dog is going after a UDX, they're dropped on recall more than they've been recalled straight. They've fetched a lot of things. They've done a LOT of heeling, and at that point have started to get bored. While you're chasing titles, assuming your dog is reasonably well prepared and consistant, you just don't spend as much time on the same exercises to bore the dog yet.