Many different dogs make a good trainer.

I hope so, anyway. My dogs have hilariously different approaches to being clicker-trained, which means that if I rapidly switch between dogs I have a tendency to get discombobulated.

Tink, for instance, throws behaviors at you in rapid-fire sequence. I once watched her teach a trainer with over a decade of experience to click her for sitting up and begging instead of doing a plain sit, just through sheer speed — the trainer could never manage to click Tink when she had both front feet on the floor. She is constantly in motion, so it’s hard to select just the response you want, since you have to have sharp eyes and fast reflexes to get a click in there.

Beowulf has a tendency to just freeze in place. I need to do “101 things to do with a box” with him, just to get him used to the notion that a click does not mean “stop right where you’re at”. On the other hand, the dog has a KILLER stay.

Sid is fun to train but I have to be careful free-shaping him. As I discovered tonight while working on teaching him to pick up my keys, if he doesn’t get a click when he thinks he should, he checks out and goes to lie down on his bed and sulk. I have to either very carefully and very slowly ratchet up my criteria for him, or adopt a variable-amount reward so that he gets, say, one kibble for hovering his nose over the keys, but four or five if he licks the keys.

My keys, incidentally, are kind of slobbery after the last training session. It’s a little gross.

In other news, the dogs’ new tags from Down 2 Earth Jewelry got here and are hanging from their collars. They are gorgeous little things and I must get pics. I informed Sid that now that he’s officially wearing his “co-pilot” tag, he must be a Good Boy all the time.

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Comments (3) | Dog Training — Tags: , , — Andrea @ 0400 on 26 February, 2011

3 Responses to “Many different dogs make a good trainer.”

  1. Trillium
    1625 on February 26th, 2011

    Ok I’m going to preface this by saying that I just got off a 16 hr graveyard shift, so to a rational person this might sound like a completely stupid idea. Instead of teaching Sid to pick up the kind of weird tasting metal keys you could start by maybe putting them in a sock so he’s not having to hold the metal, and then he can take the sock from you to lovely assistant #1 for a treat of his preference. And bring it back for a higher value treat of his preference. Then you could slowly move from a sock to a nylon stocking, to the leather tab. The rate of reinforcement would be high and you get where you want to go not only teaching “go get my keys” but also take this thing (whatever it may eventually be) to that person over there in exchange for a reward. Which might be useful for take my dirty plate to the kitchen, or go get my medicine from lovely assistant and bring it back to me.

  2. Andrea
    0632 on February 27th, 2011

    Oo, that is not a bad idea. I do need to get something better for him to pick up on the keys. And I want him to learn to take things to people for me, partly because it’s useful and partly because I want to print off cards that say “I’m a dog and don’t speak English. Furthermore, I’m working, so don’t bother me.” and have him hand them to people who try to distract him.

  3. Res
    2227 on March 30th, 2011

    Wish I’d hit this a month ago — sorry. *sigh* I need to get my life under better control.

    Suggestion for Sid and his insta-reward needs. Tire him out first. (same for Tink) Tired dogs move slower and give you more time to reward.

    Just a thought — I’ve used it on a number of dogs, including my nutcase ACDs.

    (You have GOT to meet Val, btw.)

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