If you’re looking for information on the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival, please visit my previous post.
Meanwhile . . . training has continued, even though I have not posted daily training logs. I wanted visitors to find the info on the carnival first. But, here’s an update.
We hit a learning dip or plateau a couple of days ago, when Barnum suddenly seemed unable to go for 10 seconds on any consistent basis, or at all. Fortunately, I was able to see it for a blip, and just end sessions quickly on a high note as much as possible and have faith.
He has certainly been giving me more eye contact and even eye lock throughout the day, so the training is making an impact.
I’ve also started to try to incorporate more thoughtful, planned-out recalls, with the goal of 10-20 recalls in the house or yard per day, with a variety of high-level reinforcers. Reinforcers are cooked liver, roasted chicken, raw beef heart, cheddar cheese, tug with his favorite toys, and praise and cuddles (when he is most affectionate, in the morning).
We’re continuing to train stand-stay, and last night we did a couple of ten-second stand-stays, so I think we are almost ready to test! I think he is just now getting that stand is a “thing,” like “sit” or “down” are “things,” and so the idea of stand-stay, even though he has a concept of sit- and down-stay, is new. However, I have started to incorporate sit-stay and down-stay into daily life now and again for actual useful purposes! I think he might actually be on his way to a SDiT (service dog in training)!
His recall out in the world is improving, too, as he was actually coming, sitting (uncued), and accepting treats when I called after he’d worked out his initial puppy zoomies at the pond on Friday. Amazing!
This morning we got to a count of 15 for eye contact twice in a row (which is probably about 12 seconds), and we were able to start right off the bat at six and work up. The stare is really a stare now, more intense. Truly eye lock! It’s great! Didn’t have to start at one. Then I got overconfident and did that great clicker-training no-no and asked for “just one more” 15-count eye lock, and the behavior collapsed. I ended for the day and went to the bathroom.
He saw his spider on the freezer in there and stared at me, so I built us up from 6 seconds with kibble to 10 and then rewarded with spider-tug and spider-fetch-and-tug. I also actually said the cue, “watch me,” once during our longer session to get to 10 seconds, but it seemed to make him uncomfortable, and he broke the contact. In the bathroom, I tried just “watch,” and he didn’t notice that, and that went fine, so I think I might be trying our THIRD cue and see if this one sticks (“look,” then “watch me,” now “watch”). I think he associates the earlier cues with his confusion and looking away, so I gotta come up with something and use it only when we are really solid on ten seconds. We’re getting there!
I think when we can start at 7 or 8 seconds and then do 10 consistently (5 or 6 reps at least in a row), I will reintroduce, “watch,” and then hopefully we’ll be rolling. I’ve never had to work so long and hard to get a behavior. It’s usually putting it on cue that’s the work. Here, as with LLW, I think it’ll be both!
I’ll try to get some video of our new duration behaviors as soon as possible (sit-stay and the blossoming stand-stay, LLW, and eye contact).