Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Scent Articles

In my last post I mentioned that Rundle had a set back with the scent articles and there seemed to be some confusion there - lots of tasting and picking up random articles and not committing to the correct one as quickly as he had been previously. After a couple days of this, we just took a break. We didn't do articles for nearly a week. Tonight I brought them out again, made the set up easy by me being close to the pile and having 6 un-scented articles out, two each of leather, metal and wood.  I started with his favorite (wood) and he did two perfect scenting/retrieves from the pile.  No tasting, no guessing. He was happy and confident searching for the scented article. We then moved to the leather article and again, two perfect sends with no hesitation. When we started the session, I had planned on not having him search for the metal article. Although he can usually finds it quickly, it is the one that he hesitates the most on bringing it back to me out of the pile. But, he was doing so well with the other articles, I decided to try a metal one. He was spot on and picked it up with no hesitation.  Phew!!!

Where to go from here?  We will probably stick to this format for a few sessions as long as Rundle continues to be successful. Then I will start to gradually increase the difficulty again - more distance from the pile, more un-scented articles in the pile, etc.

This was a good reminder to go back and make things simpler when our dog is struggling. Also, sometimes taking a little break is good!!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Still Here!!!

I have been crazy busy the last few weeks with various things - work, dog shows, family stuff and everyday stuff. Hopefully most of that is behind me and I can concentrate more on training Rundle. It's not that we haven't been doing anything, but our training has not been as regular as it should be. I do need to sit down and make up a training plan for how I would like to progress on various things, but for now we have just been working on a few fun things here and there.

I try to work on a bit of heeling everyday and Rundle can now heel with accuracy, attention and enthusiasm for longer stretches at a time. We still break out lots and play or add in things like go around or hand touches to keep the fun in heeling. We now need to start adding more distraction to our heeling and since Rundle is easily distracted, that will be a challenge for us. 

We continue to work on all the obedience exercises a little bit at a time. Rundle thinks the broad jump is the best thing ever!  He also is loving the go outs to touch an object or mark - he can do this the entire length of the yard (I don't have a huge yard). I am teaching him a formal "mark" cue as well as starting to combine some of the directed jumping behaviours. His turn and sit still needs work at a distance though, so it will be a while until the entire chain is solid. But that's okay - baby steps are the key to training complex behaviours. Here is a short video of Rundle learning to do the go out between 2 jumps. He can do go outs and touch from across the yard to the stanchion, but since I added in something new (the jumps) we went back and made the distance short again so that he would be successful. He had no problems with this except for the time that my body language told him to go over the jump.  Oops! Video recording training sessions is great to see what we as handlers do wrong.  I could see exactly what I did to make Rundle take the jump - another reason I am such a strong believer in positive reinforcement training - Rundle simply got no reinforment for this.  If I were a compulsion trainer, I might have been tempted to "correct" Rundle for this "mistake" when in fact he did not really make a mistake, he was just going where I told him. So, nothing happened and he got to try again - neither of us were frustrated or confused.

We have had some regression in the last week or so on Rundle's scent articles. He was doing so well and was almost 100% on bringing me the right one.  Lately he has been tasting each article and has just seemed to have lost some confidence on which one to choose.  So, we have gone back a few steps, made it easier and hopefully we will get back to where we were soon.  There are always ups and downs in training so I am not worried about this. Rundle has a good foundation on the articles so I am sure it will all come together again soon. 

We have been working on the drop on recall, which has been very fun!  Rundle has a strong reinforment history for solid, fast downs so now adding them into the recall has been fun for him. It is fun for me too to see all our foundation work paying off. 

That's about all for now :)