We finally had winter in the Pacific Northwest, a storm with lots of snow (here is how to protect your dog’s feet in cold weather) for me and lots of ice for others, record power outages and finally I am feeling caught up after the clean up. I was not able to keep up with a weekly blog and a few times per week target training. But that is OK. Deborah Jones, PhD. reminds us that you are where you are in life and in training. It usually doesn’t help to compare your progress with that of others, or to an arbitrary schedule.
So where are you at in your training goals? I was working on a sticky note nose target and a chin rest on my leg with Puffin. Puff has not forgotten what he has learned, I just need to check in with him. I get out the sticky notes, the clicker and the cheese bits (tiny bits about 1/2 the size of my pinky fingernail). I start by backing up a step, putting the note on blank wall and when Puffin is standing in front of the sticky, pointing to it (to prompt him). He does a nose touch, I click as he touches and give him a cheese bit. I point again, he touches, I click/treat. One more of those and then I don’t point and wait. He touches, I click/treat and we are off and running!
After a minute, I decide that Puffin is ready for me to add the verbal cue (“Sticky”). I decide this because he starts to go directly from eating the cheese bit to touching the sticky not without any prompting from me. I have a clean loop of click for nose touch on the sticky, I toss cheese bit a couple of feet away, he eats and goes back to nose touch. It is easy to insert “Sticky” as he finishes eating and is about to re-orient to the sticky note. The sticky note remains where it is, he is moved away from it to get the cheese bit that I toss. The new cue, “Sticky” should come before the old cue (seeing the target).
I just edited an earlier blog about cues, (after being reminded at ClickerExpo Live) that to keep everything clear for the dog, the verbal cue should come before the appearance of the target, not at the same time as the target. It is so easy to fall into overshadowing and muddy things up!