Saturday, February 19, 2011

Steps to Success L2 & L3 Distance.

Since making my Steps to Success progress chart I got sidetracked and have been working exclusively on L2 and, unknowingly, L3 Distance. I've learned some interesting things.

1) I get stuck in the Teaching phase for too long. I keep thinking Luna doesn't get it, but when I do 80% right tests Luna usually hits between 75 and 95%. Also, when I take her out of the Teaching setup and start using the new behaviour in life, she's great at it. She makes a mistake maybe once, and then she gets it!

2) The sooner I start mixing the new behaviour with known behaviours (start as soon as the cue is attached), the faster, better and more reliable Luna responds. I did this for the first time when I taught her to Stand. I C/T'd for standing, once she got that I started telling her what it's called, and then I started adding in Sits and Downs and asking her to Stand. She was over 80% right, and she learned and generalized the behaviour in ONE 30-minute session. Stand is, besides putting her head through her collar, the most reliable behaviour she has. If she makes a mistake, I can reset her by asking for a Stand, then re-cueing the missed behaviour. It is also the only behaviour that's reliably under Stimulus Control.

3) Luna learns better when I start mixing stuff up and use the behaviour in daily life as soon as she knows the cue!

Now, if I can remember this next time I teach her something new...

It's funny really. Tuesday I thought she had NO clue what I wanted. Wednesday I thought she had NO clue what I wanted. Thursday I got fed up with trying to explain, so I started asking for the behaviour before she'd get a piece of my banana, or a piece of egg at breakfast, or a piece of my cheese for lunch. Just little things like that. She got better. Then yesterday I decided just to see what she would do if I asked her to go around lamp posts outside. After two 'what do you mean exactly?' replies, she nailed them. Then on our last walk for the night, I asked her to go around a stone pillar. Easy. I asked her to go around a framed tree. Easy. I asked her to go around a 15 foot wide fence. Easy. I decided to take a chance and ask her to go around a car. Again, easy!

So, what have I learned? I'm the one getting stuck, Luna is just waiting for me to USE the behaviour. She says, 'OK, I know what it's called, now what do you want me to DO with it?!' And if I fail to answer that question, she just starts mixing in other behaviours because she is bored, wants to speed things up or whatever. In any case, HER learning is not the problem.

I'll video her Distance behaviour sometime between now and next week. ;-)

Here's our updated Steps to Success Progress Chart:

Luna Passed L2 Distance Steps 1-4 & L3 Distance Steps 1-5.
I will be adding our Daily Shoot assignment today, but it will have to wait until our next walk, as it requires an outdoor shot.


  1. I totally know what you're saying! I am also guilty of staying in the teaching phase much too long. Lu "gets it" very quickly, but my issue is that I tend to not trust that she'll do it without a food reward, so I continue to reward her with treats without ever really proofing the behavior properly. Hmm. Maybe *we're* the ones being trained...? lol

  2. Oh yes, I think we are. Dog training is actually *people* training!