We continued with our work from last week. Kathy had sent our video's to us and asked us to critique what we saw. She asked us to review the video and make a list of 3 things we like and 3 things we want to improve for each behavior. She also said we should make note of any pattern in our handling and the dog's attention, focus and teamwork across all of the behaviors.
Then we were to pick two of the behaviors to work on. I picked Down-Stand and Counter-Clockwise Circle. I picked them because both had issues separate from the issue we are working on to tune-up our "side" (right side heeling). For each of them we were to select one aspect from the "to improve" comments to work on first (which I've underlined). Here is the analysis I did for both of them:
♥ Like: prompt and fast stand to hand signal; happy dog; eager to respond;
To Improve: start position – need to go back to basics on “side” to
and shouldn’t need “wait” cue before down or hand
signal for down,
and down should be aligned in “side” position; want to
get “stand” on a
verbal cue; want ending stand position in correct
(butt angled out even more than first time);
♥ Handling: unintended shoulders/hips turned toward dog; need to reward faster
and in position;
Behavior: Counter-Clockwise Circle Around
♥ Like: on verbal; no hand signal; relaxed and happy;
Improve: position at start is wide (more “side” work); doesn’t
first time and needed to lure with empty hand to get end
first half of behavior is too far from me - she comes in close to finish;
♥ Handling: shoulders all over the place;
Then we talked about fluency and all the different parts of what makes fluency (not to be confused with stimulus control). Generally Kathy has noted (as have I) as you improve precision, some of the other aspects clear up on their own because the dog gains confidence in what is expected. Of course, this assumes reward-based training. So, she recommends working on issues with precision first. The six aspects of fluency are:
♥ Precision – does behavior look like you want it to look like
♥ Latency – lag time for initial response to cue (one second?)
♥ Speed – how fast does dog do behavior (time it takes to complete)
♥ Distance – can dog do behavior at a predetermined distance
♥ Distraction – can dog do behavior in conditions in which you want it to happen
♥ Duration – can dog do behavior for as long as you want it to (holding sits, etc)
Then Kathy coached each of us on how to work on the part of the behavior we selected to improve first. What she suggested for my wanting to get the starting down position aligned more correctly is nothing I hadn't heard before - I just hadn't seen the issue, thus hadn't done it. Its a matter of working beside a barrier or using a platform and training the down, so Gimme understands where to be.
Here is a diagram of our issue. What I want is a nice tight circle around me (green line). What I'm getting is the red dotted line. My analogy is: Gimme is showing up for pay-day in "side" position.
What Kathy suggested for our issue
with circle was a little different. She started with using wire guides
and just rewarding a lot in different parts of the circle. I thought
she was going to suggest gradually opening up the guides on the side
where Gimme knows best (the end position). It would start out looking
like a "C" with just one panel folded open, then gradually fold back
more and more panels until it was gone.
Instead Kathy's approach after doing many repetitions with the guides tight to ensure Gimme stayed close, was to expand the guide to form an egg shape or a bigger circle. Then move me so Gimme had a choice about whether to stay tight or to go loose. If she stayed tight, she was amply rewarded. If she went loose, she got no reward and then we went back to using the guides to ensure she took the correct path before retesting. Gimme seemed to be getting the idea, so we'll keep playing with it.
On an exciting note, just before class ended, a student from the following class came in with her dog and wanted to put it in a crate right next to where Gimme was. My request to move away and wait until class was over or to put it in a different crate fell on deaf ears. <sigh> However at least she was willing to cover the front of the crate, so I'd have a little more maneuverability when we'd be leaving. I could sure tell when Gimme realized there was a dog there. She went from calm and collected to alert and ready for something. I thought it was going to be a challenge when we left.
Instead Gimme walked away with me cool as a cucumber. Of course, then I realized I'd forgotten my car keys, so we had to walk back to the crate, which was also approaching the dog in the other crate. Gimme acted like he wasn't there. I was very proud of her. One of the other students has a reactive dog she sometimes brings to class and she noticed how well Gimme did and sent me a nice note about it. Gimme got lots of peanut butter for her good behavior.