Sunday, June 14, 2009

A New Training Endeavor

I have become ambitious enough to try to put the 'retriever' into my Lab.

My dog, while probably a Lab mix, does not exude the "typical" Lab quality of an ingrained desire to retrieve things. She will bring a toy back to me if she wants me to throw it, but it's not the same as truly fetching.

I had the bright idea to try to make it into a manual process rather than just a random game she wants to play sometimes.

I used shaping. I've always lured my dog to get her to do something - treat above the head for a sit, on the floor for a down. This time, I let her do all the thinking. I clicked her for looking at the toy, for sniffing it, for pawing it, for putting her mouth around it. Then I only clicked her for picking it up with her mouth. It is, honestly, one of the coolest things I've ever done with her.

On Day 2, this is where we stand.. as you can see, I'm clicking her for picking it up in her mouth AND moving with it as well. I clicked too late a couple of times, but it's very hard to figure out how long she's going to hold it before she drops it. If I wait before clicking, she'll bring it back to me after dropping it a couple of times. She's picking up quickly, I'd say.

So that's what we've been doing the past couple of days. I haven't put up the weave poles in at least 4 days, and the Rally exercises this week were rather easy so we didn't practice too much. (Hope tonight's class goes okay.)


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Golden Samantha June 14, 2009 at 4:33 PM  

Great progress! She sounds so smart! I've never tried clicker training, but maybe it would be one way to go with the obedience?! Keep up the great work!
xo Sammie

Martha June 15, 2009 at 4:39 PM  

We are just sooo impressed! We bassets are pretty useless to try and train! If someone throws something away we dont see why we should have to go get it but we like watching other dogs!
You should join up with Ludo for his tricky T day - we love seeing him do all his tricks too. We just havent joined in cos we dont do any!
Martha & Bailey xxxx

Life With Dogs June 16, 2009 at 8:08 AM  

And I have been trying to train some of the retriever out of our Labs! I need them to stop bringing me kitty litter. Marge is looking awfully good by comparison. :)

StellaStar June 16, 2009 at 2:49 PM  

Sweet! I should try this with Rufus. He drops the ball off behind me somewhere; rarely at my feet.

You do such a fantastic job with Marge. I'm always so impressed by the work you do with her :)

Rufus and Indie June 16, 2009 at 6:11 PM  

The clicker is great! I found the clicker some months ago and I think it's the best for us to play and teach our dogs!
Marge's work is amazing!

Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart June 16, 2009 at 7:22 PM  

Even though border collies are known to be fanatical fetchers, Lilly looked at me early on with total frustration: "Why do you keep throwing that thing? I just brough it to you!"

So, a trainer recommended throwing food at first. They run to get the food and eat it (obviously, they don't bring it back). But, then you use a recall and reward them for coming. Then, throw another piece of food.

This sets up the pattern for running out and back, after you throw something.

Eventually, we threw toys and traded them for food. VOILA! Fetching fool is born.

We have a good steep hill at home and a pond, so when I really need to tire her out, I throw the ball down the hill or into the pond (to play swim fetch).

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