Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I Taught What???

Dog Blog Post #110: From the files of "I Taught What???"

A few weeks ago, I decided to test Training Levels Five - Come: "The dog does a full Novice Recall - Sit-Stay, 40’, one cue, Front, Finish, appropriate cues."

I didn't actually think Zachary could do it, but I wanted to see where we stood in the process before I began working on it.

It turns out we stood about six feet part, as that was the distance between me and him after I called "Zachary, Here!" and he came roaring up nice and straight then came to a screeching halt...

... six feet away.

Yes, that's feet.

No, not inches, which is the unit we were looking for here, but feet - which made him about 66 inches (167.64 cm) further away than he should have been.

Yeah - really, really, far.

Hardly the "reach out and touch" distance that we were looking for.

Now the correct thing to do would have been to sigh, break out my clicker, and start working on it.

And I did that.

But I also sat down later and tried to figure out how I managed to screw up something as simple as "Here!" And I finally think I did.

Are you ready for this one?

I taught him to back up.

Yup, trick-training bites me in the butt again.

Somewhere between teaching a lovely recall, and testing Level Five Come, I taught the boys to back up. The signal? Hands on my hips (picture me glaring at them, but without the glare.)

What's the signal for recall? Hands at my sides. Now you would think those two signals would be different enough...

... and you would be wrong.

Which meant that as Zachary came roaring up for his recall, he looked up and me, saw me standing with hands kind of at my sides, and came to screeching halt...

... and then backed up.

I am pleased to say we seem to be on the road to Recall Recovery. After a few fits and starts, I finally hit on standing facing a solid object (kitchen cabinet) some 3' away, and calling him to front. This requires him to get nice and close - for which he is heavily rewarded.

This did result in a temporarily crooked sit, but that seems to be straightening itself out now that we are once again practicing "out in the open".

The lesson here?

Never underestimate the ability of a trainer to screw themselves up.

For the curious: Beau trotted up, sat in front, and on my signal did a lovely finish behind my back.

3 comments:

aftergadget said...

I've had things like this happen with Barnum. He learned the closed fist meant "leave it" so well (from zen) that if I have a hand shape that REMOTELY resembles a fist to him, he will start whining and backing away. That meant I had to teach him to touch the target stick *without closing my hand around the stick* and that I have to hold treats in an open palm, and that I can't have my hand on my lap in a shape that looks like a fist, etc., etc. He is slowly starting to relax and I think discern that some handshapes that look a bit like a fist don't actually mean "leave it." (I was going to use ASL for "stay," which is middle fingers closed and thumb and pinky extended, but to him, that was a fist. Now, I can use one extended index finger, which is actually ASL for "wait a second," and he accepts that.) Anyway, it's good they're paying attention, right?!
-Sharon
-Sharon

aftergadget said...

I've had things like this happen with Barnum. He learned the closed fist meant "leave it" so well (from zen) that if I have a hand shape that REMOTELY resembles a fist to him, he will start whining and backing away. That meant I had to teach him to touch the target stick *without closing my hand around the stick* and that I have to hold treats in an open palm, and that I can't have my hand on my lap in a shape that looks like a fist, etc., etc. He is slowly starting to relax and I think discern that some handshapes that look a bit like a fist don't actually mean "leave it." (I was going to use ASL for "stay," which is middle fingers closed and thumb and pinky extended, but to him, that was a fist. Now, I can use one extended index finger, which is actually ASL for "wait a second," and he accepts that.) Anyway, it's good they're paying attention, right?!
-Sharon
-Sharon

BZ Training said...

And they keep telling us dogs don't generalize well...