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.**

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