Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Trick 5

If you look closely, you can see the cookie on Henry's muzzle
Dog Blog Post #221: The trick for this week was...

Balance Cookie on the Nose

(Inspired by Morgan over at Tales and Tails)

This was taught using "Zen" - that is, be patient and you will be rewarded! - a fourth training method I hadn't thought of when I had previously listed my main methods as Shaping, Luring, and Capturing. Zen is very useful for teaching a dog to not do something until you tell them to (if you choose to allow it at all.)

For this trick, I started by holding a cookie and approaching Henry's muzzle very slowly. If he reached for the cookie, I pulled it back quickly. I would then try again, and if I could get to that same spot without him reaching, I would very quickly give him the cookie.

If he reached, I would pull it back again, but the following time I would make sure he got the cookie before he reached. I want him to succeed!

The basic idea here is that Doing Nothing gets the cookie.

I find having a clear difference in speed between the placing of the cookie (veeerrrryyyy sllllooooowwwwllllyyyy) and the delivery of the cookie as a reward (quick!) helps the processes along.

By the end of the first session (just a few minutes) I was able to gently touch the top of his muzzle with the cookie. The next day I was able to put it on his muzzle, without letting go. And the day after that I was able to let go and quickly pick it up again.

Beau learned this trick extremely fast, but I found having something for him to focus on helped him to keep his head level, which is necessary for most cookies. Therefore, the cue for this trick is the index finger of my non-cookie holding hand pointing up ("We're Number One") and held at the approximate level where I want his head. Without the finger, Beau's head used to gradually drop, perhaps as he tried to look down at the cookie itself!

Once the cookie is in place, I start pulling back my hands, extending the time (and distance) my hands were away.


On to The Daily Shoot:

Make a photograph that features repetition.

This wasn't hard, I just didn't quite capture what I wanted to capture. Looking at what people uploaded (the link above), I feel mine was seriously lacking in creativity and execution. Oh well, there's always tomorrow.

Since this is supposed to be training blog, I'm going to try to have list a training observation or two in each Daily Shoot commentary. Today's is that getting the dogs to sit next to each other is just as hard as getting them to sit next to the large BBQ. I can certainly wrestle them in place, and they usually stay, but getting them that way is... ugly.


The First Skill of the week to be improved on will be getting them to lie side-by-side. I have no idea how I'm going to work on this, but I will.

As for positives? Once IN place, they tended to stay there, and I was able to manipulate their paws and have them leave them where I put them.

I took many shots - both portraits and close-ups - and in the end I uploaded the "paw shot" just because it was a bit different than anything else I'd uploaded.


CindyLu's Muse said...

I'm going to try your techniques for the cookie-on-the-nose, I'd given up trying to get our Chester to do that one. He's great at learning tricks, but the nose one just failed. Thanks for your ideas!!

Kolchak Puggle said...

We are definitely on board to try this "Zen gets me a cookie" idea. Daddy once bet Mama that she would NEVER get a cookie to sit on my nose, and Mom threw up her hands a few years ago and admitted defeat. Daddy rubbed it in rather mercilessly, so it would be *pawesome* if we could show him! Better go practice...."oooooohhhhhhhhmmmmmm"

Pup Fan said...

Your cookie-on-nose training technique is super smart! Maybe I'll give that a shot with Bella.

I like the paw shot for the Daily Shoot. :)

houndstooth said...

That's the closest description to what my husband was doing with Morgan that I can think of! With all this snow we're getting, I predict that she'll have it perfected before Snowmageddon is over!

I rather like that shot of their paws!

LuLu and Wally said...

If my dogs had a nose, I'd definitely give this a try.. LOL! Actually, Lu has a bit of a muzzle, and I could probably balance a small cookie on it. I've given it a shot before, but tried to move too quickly and sabotaged myself. I'll have to try it again, this time I'll remember to be more Zen! :)