Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Different Angle

I can't say that I'm the best at staying consistent with my dogs' training. This is one of the biggest reasons dogs never become fully trained or super good listeners. I know that, but for some reason I am not good at sticking with my training sessions.
After talking it over with Mr. K I thought taking an obedience class with Hermione would be the way to go. It would be a way to interact with other doggie people and also I would have to train in order to make sure we were ready for the next class. My competitive nature wouldn't let me do anything different.
Then, we talked again and he pointed out that we've been through beginners class already and shocked our trainer with our obedient miniature Dachshund. Plus, I've read a million different articles/books. I really do know what I'm doing on my own, but I still needed to find a way to hold myself accountable. So, I started thinking. Obviously what I'm doing now isn't working because we'll train three days in a row and then go two without doing anything. Not good. I'd have to come up with a new way to do things if I wanted to be successful.
This is what I've come up with.
1. Actually implement a training plan. I.E., pick a behaviour/task/cue to work on for the week and stick with it. Write the training plan out; kind of like a road map.
I've just been randomly picking things and working on it, but not actually writing up a plan to follow. By writing the plan, I'll know where we are and where we are going and how to get there. For example, I need Hermione to be able to "stay" longer as well as go into a "down" without being lured. Now that I've identified these areas, I'll put together a plan to get there. I think the reason why I didn't stick with the scent detection work with Roscoe was because I never wrote up a plan. I figured out what we needed to do to introduce the task, but never got any further than that. Since I didn't have a plan I kind of gave up because we were doing the same things over and over again even though he was ready to move on. If I go back to the scent detection with him, I will write out a whole plan this time.
2. Find someone to hold me accountable.
Mr. K has agreed to take time every few days or once a week to watch us "perform." If I have to show him our progress, then I'm going to be more likely to complete the training sessions. I am very performance oriented; probably from my days as an athlete. I don't want to perform without practising. So, if I have to show off our mad skills to someone, you can be assured I'll be training.
3. Use various training methods.
I've been stuck in this rut of using treats. They get Hermione to do what I want, but she's figured out that with most cues she doesn't have to do it unless I have a treat. I'm no longer rewarding, but bribing and that is not effective. I have to find a way to get the behaviours I want in such a way that it becomes natural for her. I kind of have to trick her. For example, I am going to teach her to "stay" by playing fetch instead of luring her with treats. We have a ball with a bell in it that Kim lent us and Hermione loves it. I am going to have to break things into small steps to get what I want, but I think we'll get there. Here's an example of what I mean:
Reinforcing "stay" Using Thousand Pecks Method
1. Have Hermione "sit." Count "1 alligator," click and throw ball to have her retrieve. Repeat extending count until reach her thresh hold. If break thresh hold back up to a spot where she will stay; even if it means only counting only two alligators. (Note to self: remember to be patient).
By playing fetch instead of using treats, I think I can teach Hermione to stay and down without having to lure her. I'll let you know how it all goes.
As for Roscoe: we'll keep using treats. He's a Lab and will do anything for kibble. He will also do things in the hopes of kibble so I don't have to bribe him. I haven't figured out what I want to work on with him, but I'm thinking "front" and "touch." We've started on "front" and he seems to get it for the most part: we are still at the kibble stage.
With that, I must go. I have a very crazy Spaniel who is excited to start training: she is currently digging for buried treasures in the couch.

PS: Sorry if this post seemed like jibberish. I wrote it as a part of my "accountability" plan. :)

1 comment:

Dexter said...

I have trouble sticking with training too. I always start strong and then a day goes by and another and another. It sounds petty, but sometimes the idea of breaking up treats into little rewards is, in itself, daunting.

My biggest obstacle is setting my sights too high. I have the most success with short sessions focused on a single behavior. I need to remind myself that if Dexter isn't catching on, it usually means I haven't broken down the behavior into small enough steps.

We are working on requesting a stay from a distance. My trainer had to remind me that a distance is whatever can be tolerated. For now it is only two feet.

Do whatever you can to keep things fun for both of you and good luck.

Mango Momma