Thursday, January 7, 2010

Clicker - Touch

Lilly and I have begun clicker training recently.  It's as challenging for me as it is for her.  It really gives the 'ol brain a work out.  I have to find ways to get her to understand what I want her to do... and then she has to try to figure out what the heck it is I'm trying to tell her.

Here's a quick video of her learning "touch" with a target stick.  I probably used too many repetitions with it, but I'm still working on getting my timing down and she is still working on figuring out how this whole thing works.

Last night she and I had a very frustrating night.  I'm trying to get her to learn to "get it" (essentially a retrieve) so that eventually I can teach her article discrimination (essentially telling her to "get XYZ" and she will be able to choose it from a handful of toys/articles on the floor and retrieve it).  Anyway, Lilly is no lab.  She's just recently started picking up a ball at the dog park in order to play keep away with the other dogs.  If you throw a ball, she will do a duck and cover.  She's not really into retrieving.  But, since she's willing to pick stuff up I figured article discrimination would be a good idea for her mental stimulation.  Last night I attempted to get her to pick up a ball.  It didn't go well.  Perhaps as a result of the target stick, she pushed everything with her nose and just refused to pick it up.  We did get somewhere with her taking a treat ball from me, but the distraction of the treat ball caused her to (at least I think) pay no attention to what the reward was for.

Then, this afternoon... BREAK THROUGH!  She came running into the living room with a squeaky ball in her mouth.  I got on the floor and tossed it a couple feet for her a few times and when she ran after it and grabbed it I rewarded like nobody's business.  We got out the clicker and treats and for a while she ignored the ball.  She would just sit and stare at me - not a clue what to do to get rewarded.  Eventually, I gave up and stopped paying attention to her.  She got sick of me and went over to pick up the ball and play herself.  CLICK!  Woohoo!  This happend over and over.  After about half an hour she had kinda figured out that if she picks up the ball, she'll get the reward.  It still takes her a bit to figure out - she will walk up to me, sniff around for treats, stare at me, stare at the clicker, I will look at the ball and she will eventually (sometimes I think out of frustration) trot over to the ball to pick it up.  CLICK!  By the time I ended the session, she was pretty consistantly seeking out the ball so she could get her reward.  I think today was important not only in that she started to pick up the ball, but also because she is figuring out that her best shot for reward is to try different things until she figured out what I want.  I can tell now she's beginning to offer behaviors in attempt to guess what I want, which is wonderful!  YAY for Lilly!  (and yay for me begining to figure out how to get her to figure it out... or something like that)

Oh, and YAY for Bailey being such a good boy and laying down when I ask him so she can do her homework.  Maybe tonight we'll try and take video of another session.



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