Posts Tagged 'training service dogs'

Video: Light Switch, Take 2

A few days ago I posted a video of Barnum learning  how to jump up and turn on the bathroom light. During the training session, and after it, watching the video, showed me where the holes were in Barnum’s understanding. I saw that I needed to go back and re-explain to Barnum that the point of what we’re doing is to put his nose under the switch and nudge it up, flicking the switch on.

He knows how to do that, but when we combined jumping up on the wall with touching the switch plate, he got confused and tried out some other behaviors, such as scratching at the wall.

We went back to using the switch I have on a board. I clicked and treated for centered, firm, focused nudges of the switch. I slowly raised the switch up to the height of the real light switches. When I took the board away, he “got it” right away and consistently nudged the light switch up, instead of just losing his head because he was getting to leap up on the wall.

It only took one session to bridge those two behaviors back to a chain. I’ll write another post soon about retraining behavioral links in a chain that are weak, because that’s what I’ve just started to do since I have my new Training Levels: Steps to Success book by Sue Ailsby now. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link — it’s as true in dog training as in anything else.

Anynoodle, after strengthening the nose-nudging link, I reconnected the chain, and we were in business. I decided to video the end of the session to show the vast improvement in such a short time. The video is quite short, just 30 seconds. Below is a transcript/description of the video.

Video description:

Sharon sits diagonally facing a double light-switch plate on a bathroom tile wall. One of the switches has clear plastic tubing extending the switch two or three inches.

She points to the switches. Barnum jumps up with his forepaws just below and to either side of the switch plate. The camera is not aimed high enough, so we don’t see what he does, but a light goes on in the room. Sharon does nothing. Barnum had started to come down, but when he realizes he has not gotten clicked, he bounces back up and nose-nudges the correct switch, flooding the room with light. Sharon clicks and tosses a treat.

SHARON: Yes, good boy! (Tossing another treat.)

Sharon turns off both lights and Barnum turns back to the wall. Without waiting for any cue, Barnum jumps up and very deliberately flicks on the correct switch. Sharon clicks, tosses a treat, saying, “Yes! Good boy!” She tosses another treat.

Barnum turns back to the wall. He looks to Sharon for guidance, and she points toward the light switches. Barnum jumps up and turns on the light again. Sharon clicks and tosses treats while saying, “Yes! Good dog!” In a high, happy voice.

SHARON (facing the camera): Okay, turn it off now.

I hope you enjoyed that. I did! Go, Team Barnum!

– Sharon, the muse of Gadget, and Barnum, SDiT

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