Sunday, September 17, 2006

Good day and the beginings of the great hotdog retrieve!

Good day today, have things reasonably sorted out for tomorrows appointment with the Real Estate fellow... not that the house is on the market yet but we had a lot of "stuff" as we inherited everything of my mother-in-laws, grandfather-in-laws and grandmother-in-laws and I wanted that dealt with before having them over to talk. There was still a fair bit still unpacked, in boxes from the time they moved to here 3 years prior to my arriving. Then when Grandpa passed, his belongings were in boxes.

This has been a long-term project, pretty much since I came over permanently. Four skips, the smallest 3 meter, the largest 7 meters FILLED. Two sets of donations to the Salvos with their big truck. Four trips with a trunk-full each time. Several dozen things freecycled/released to new homes where it can be enjoyed instead of just being clutter. Most of the stuff we're keeping is sorted into portfolios, storage boxes etc. (Photos, letters which were written between family members which we're keeping as part of family history, momentos, paintings and artworks etc etc.)

Whew! What a job it's been!

In dog news... my dumbell finally arrived a few days ago and today I started working with it a little bit. Took a few minutes and freeshaped Sierra into taking it by the bit into her mouth in a good hold behind her teeth. :-)

We followed Shirley's Retrieve... using just plain old kibble on the back deck. It went like this:
1.) Start freeshaping by clicking for any interaction with the dumbell. Since freeshaping is a favorite game, she got it pretty quick. Initially ran over to a few other objects to see if we were also working with them today which we weren't... cheeky lil'girl! The test to see if she "got it" and was ready to progress is 20 clicks in 20 trials in 1 session, which was repeated after each step to test comprehension. (So the dog had to perform the correct behaviour 20x right in a row iow.) Results: Step one was easy peasie and she got it straight away!!!
2.) Eliminate pawing - so instead of marking/rewarding any interaction, it was any interaction except pawing. Super cinchy since she's not real paw oriented and had only offered pawing about 3x initially and only then in combination with nosing
3.) Eliminate looks, nose bumps - a little bit harder as when I held out on her she got more insistant in her nose bumps with a good hearty extinction burst, which isn't surprising considering we've been working a lot on duration with 'touch' for the wand! Noticed I wasn't getting much in the way of tooth connection which I wanted for the next step, so I decided to wait on her a bit till she accidentally hit it with her tooth, clicked and jackpotted with liver. Did that a couple times before she started doing the math and figured out that tooth contact equaled better rewards and more of it! LOL She was also quite keen on the bit when she was nudging which I wanted to keep, and generally ignored the bells until this point when I happened to get the accidental tooth contact on the end of the bell. Eliminated licking at this point as she wasn't really offering it to start with, so just as easy to fade it then.
4.) Eliminated contact with the bells... fairly easy again, just made touching teeth to the bit vs. the bell a better payoff. Ex 1 piece of kibble for contact with bells vs. 10 pieces or some liver for contact with bit. Easy peasie... I love working with dogs who are such little greedy gullets! LOL
5.) Eliminated tooth bumps, same deal - tooth bumps paid cheap, mouthing paid good. Got quite enthusiastic mouthing pretty quick and started whittling right down for proper hold behind the teeth and a decent grip pressure wise. So now we've got her taking the dumbell by the bit in the proper way! I got 10x of this and threw a kibble party, ending the training on a really super high note.... and anyway I was late, supposed to have left for a festival today! :-O

So tomorrow we'll go back over the last bit, test to make sure she understands it and then start with getting her to pick it up off the floor by the bit before moving on with the rest of it. This is all, for anyone wondering, the first little baby steps towards having the dog fetch a warm hotdog that I toss WITHOUT eatting it and release it neatly into my hands. It's a training challenge I heard about in one of the Clickerexpos. First I need to train the base behaviours very, very soundly... hence our working on a nice formal retrieve with the dumbell! I figure it'll be a fun party trick to lob a hotdog and have the dog fetch it without chomping any! ;-)

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