Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Where do we go from here...

As mentioned in my previous post, Tip blew most of her dog walk contacts. I spent 7 hours driving home after the trial thinking about it. Many ideas, no solutions yet.

I guess the first questions are:

  • Does she really know what I am asking her to do?
  • Is she just loosing her head in the heat of the moment?
  • Are the consequences not severe enough (making her re-do the sequence and get the contact)?

My observations from this weekend are:

  • The first couple of times when I repeated the sequence she got the contact perfectly on the second try. After that I would repeat up to three times and she would not get it. I would then walk her off the course.Perhaps that is reward enough (getting to do the sequence again) and reinforcing the bad behavior.
  • On one run I tried slowing her down before the dog walk and told her that she needed to do her job. She still blew it.
  • I tried to just place her back on the end of the walk and ask her to do the contact. She had NO idea what I wanted her to do. I don't ask her to do this in practice. I believe in repeating the sequence.

  • Current ideas are:
  • Go back to basics. Work with Tip on 'how to learn'
  • Break the dog walk back down into running over and just doing to contact backchaining.
  • Work on the walk in the backyard. When she blows it, put her in the house and bring out Split to work with.
  • Go back to a running contact! I like the idea of a running contact, but I don't want to keep going back and forth. Reasons we left the running contact are for another day on this post.

So, today, just to experiment I worked with Tip in the backyard. I sent her over the dog walk a couple of times. I didn't really run hard, didn't through a toy, just kept it easy. Normally, she would get this NO PROBLEM. She blew it. Since I wanted to be successful a couple of times before I upped the stakes, I put her over again, she stayed (what would I have done if she didn't?).

Here was the drill: send her over, she gets it, I throw the ball (her most favorite toy on earth) at least 7 times. Do it again.

So, I did the drill. The first and second time still keeping it easy. She made it. The third time I threw the ball in front of her, but she stayed on the contact-yeah! Rewarded with a 7 round game of ball. Upped the stakes again, ran really fast, threw the ball in front of her, she blew it. OK! No emotion, take her to the house, put her in (BTW, she can still see through the door). I get Split and we have the BEST time of our lives. Playing ball, practicing rear crosses, etc.. Tip is going NUTS in the house. She can not stand to be left out. So, again I bring her out and repeat the cycle. I did this about 3 times, each time she stayed a little better. Hum...is this going to work, don't know.

Something I did realize in all of this:

  1. I suck at marking the good behavior--I need to get better. Say 'yes' exactly when she hits her 2o2o.
  2. She is not clear on her release word. Sometimes she releases when I say 'yes' sometimes she stays.

We will work on this tomorrow again. I have another trial this weekend so we will see if this has any impact at all.

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