Friday, December 30, 2011

Griffin: Attitude and Arousal

Griffin and I are having a great time in our online obedience class.  It's one of the best things I've ever done. I'm learning so much and we're being challenged in many ways.

But with the class has come a horrible realization that I've made some huge, huge mistakes with Griffin.

In many sports and activities there's a bit of discussion about arousal and performance.  If you're really relaxed, you won't do well at most sports. If you're too worked up, you also aren't going to do so well.  The optimum arousal will depend on the activity...obviously the optimum arousal for chess is different than that for speed skating.

I've made an effort to make enthusiasm and attitude part of Griffin's training.  If he's not being excitable enough, we don't do heeling or retrieves. I don't want poor responses being reinforced, ever.

If you train low latency (time from the cue to when the dog responds) for a few behaviors, it's often generalized for everything.   The same sort of thing seems to have happened.  Griffin is quite excited and enthusiastic about training.

This is great for some behaviors, but not too great for others.  I've intentionally-but-shouldn't-have trained him to be a bit --too-- excitable for many behaviors and this is (likely) contributing to the slow progress of stay duration.  

Over the last 18 months we've worked really hard to increase the number of reinforcers we have available as well as to increase the value of the reinforcers.  This is adding arousal to the behaviors. His attitude to training is continueing to improve.  

Another challenge area was that I compared Griffin to the diagnosed-as-hyperactive Blaze.  And in comparison, Griffin -is- calmer.  But that doesn't make him calm.

Now to develop more ways to intentionally decrease arousal and excitement.  We have to create a lot more calmness.

Exhaustion is not the same as calmness.
After 4 days of camp, Griffin was so tired he would not move. 

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