Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Go to mat training beginnings. Twelve weeks old.

I started with 'go to mat' training for Beau. The goal is to be able to have the dog go to a mat and lay down and be quiet whenever we need him to. 

At first my goal was just to get Beau to look at or sniff or even better, sit on the mat--but he wasn't interested in the mat, just dinner..  (actually I had the mat too far away--I should have put it where he would naturally sit on it...)

So to get him to notice the mat I just started tossing treats onto the mat.  Then I clicked and treated rapidly before he could get off, even though I don't think he really realized that he was on the mat at that point--he was just happy to be getting dinner.  Every ten treats or so, I tossed the treat away so he would leave the mat to get the treat.  But he still wasn't intentionally going back on to the mat to get a treat. hmmm...

 After a few minutes of this, I finally remembered to put the mat at my feet where Beau was more likely to lie down so that I could more easily reinforce the behavior--quickly treating about every second with two pieces of kibble.  (he likes his kibble...?) And then throwing a treat off the mat to give him a chance to go back to it on purpose.  For the first four or five times I had to draw his attention to the mat by patting it and then he went and laid down for another round of rapid reinforcement..

Finally, after about six cycles of 10 treats, he left the mat to go get his tossed treat, paused for a second and then trotted onto the mat.  Yeah!  So I click and give him the rest of the bowl for dinner.  That's it for training today.

**By the way--I like to use meals/food for training,  I like to have a dog  work to get his food.  Some people think it makes a dog who will only work if there is food around but I never had that problem with Molly and I don't think I will with Beau either.  I think it makes a dog who is always trying to figure out what you want him to do.  Works for me.**

A month's worth of life in 12 pictures

Jenna has been practicing every morning--we manage a mere 10 minutes but every bit counts.
 "Put your violin over on your shoulder."  Smart alek.

Benson going to show-and-tell at preschool.  It's always nice to have the kids demonstrate how non-violent and peaceful things are at this house. Pretty sure there are a couple of guns in the backpack.
Jenna and I went to a baby shower in Logan for Ashlee.  Any time now...
And who can resist a cute picture of pregnant cousins hugging.
Rustin and I went with Austin's class on their field trip to Boise.  My favorite part?--
The penitentiary.
The creamy whites and steely gray-blues with a touch of rust and brick.  I am determined to paint my house these colors one of these days...

Here's to looking up! (Boise state capitol building.)
I guess I should have included laundry, bills, dishes, Rustin in a suit (church...), school picnics, flowers and homework.  You'll just have to imagine.  Final count-down--3 1/2 days of school.  Yea!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cheapest computer fix ever...

I was sure that we were going to have to get a new computer.  The Internet connection kept crashing and things were moving very slowly until finally--no Internet at all. (the spell checker keeps telling me to capitalize internet--is that right?)

Then, late Saturday night, it occurred to me that I should check the phone connection that is in the corner.

Yep.  It had fallen prey to a teething puppy.

Thankfully he didn't chew through the cord he just pulled everything loose so all I had to do was re connect the wires to the phone jack in the wall.  ( so glad I learned to do that back when I ran an entirely new line to the family room!) Computer is all better.  It does still need a few updates and it is running low on memory but it is hanging in there.

**Warning--dog training talk ahead...** Anyone an expert trainer out there?  I could use some advice!

As far as puppy training goes--we are now proud owners of the third best creation of all time.  Right after telephone and color television.  The dog door.  Seriously.
Emmet making good use of the new door.

I don't think much can rival the dog door for convenience.  Maybe it's not the Third most important invention but it is seriously awesome.  Rustin put on a pair of goggles and very dramatically (sparks everywhere) cut a hole in the family room door.  Once the hole was cut it only took about 15 minutes to put the door in.  It took a couple of tries to get Beau used to the door and Wallah.  Potty training accomplished.

We hit a snag with training which I remember from Molly's days;  adding a cue to a second behavior (down).  It seems like the second behavior is the worst until they get the idea that everything has a different name.

Down has been a tricky one.  Sit was so firmly ingrained that I couldn't get him to lay down for anything.  I ended up luring a few times which  made him think he was being rewarded for trying to get a treat out of my hand sothen I had to go back and do treat zen again...

Once Beau figured out that laying down was what was getting treats then I couldn't get him to get up so I could cue the down.  Even if I threw the treat he would army crawl over to get it.  I started holding it up to lure him up and that kind of started a snapping sort of attempt to get the treat which wasn't what I wanted... Anyway I finally just started walking far enough away that he would get up and that helped.  However...

Once I added the cue "down" to the repertoire then Beau was confused again. As in, 'I'm not supposed to sit anymore she just wants me to lay down.  And I don't think he was hearing the word but just responding to my fist on the floor by laying down and batting at my hand.  That's not what I want. 

 I'm not sure this puppy will survive this inexperienced trainer. 

I have been getting  this sort of slouching,whining, half-sit-slide-to-down. hmmm.  So for a few days I just abandoned it entirely and let him do some target (touching a spoon) and 'leave it'.  He still sits by default whenever he wants something.

I did finally get a good sit again by clicking really fast for the sit cue (even if he wasn't looking at me and was trying to slide to down) and then giving him his treat up high above his head so he couldn't slide down.

I know a better trainer would be getting through all this much faster but I am only training one meal a day.  And truthfully we missed a few days with our recent bout with strep throat...
He is finally sitting again and is making good progress with down.  I went back to pairing the cue 'down' with capturing the action again. And he did a really good in the kitchen down on the fist cue yesterday... 

Remember -this article... And Ian Dunbar's often repeated rule--dogs don't generalize.  If you teach it in one place you will probably have to teach all over again when you move to a new place.  Eventually they will get it but it takes a lot of repetitions in a lot of different places.  I am reminding myself of these things as I type.

On an encouraging note--Everything's going great with loose leash walking (though he really just picked that up on his own without a lot of trouble) and coming when called (see here too)and staying home.  Beau has never strayed out of the yard even with the fence not complete.  He doesn't leave my parents or my sisters house either when off leash. And his hair is soft as bunny fur.  Really.  And I love to brush him.

So I just keep trying.