June 25, 2005

On the Road

I did Helix Fairweather's Cyberagility course when Thommo was beginning agility, and really appreciate the extensive notes we were given as part of the program. I often refer back to them for training help.

Helix introduced us to Dani Weinberg's training model. These are the stages that you go through from introducing a new behaviour, to mastery of that behaviour.
  1. Get the behaviour
  2. Change the picture
  3. Add a cue
  4. Make it harder
  5. Take it on the road

So far I have captured a sit, lured a down, and shaped a stand.

We have practiced these with me in different positions in relation to Dusty - it is so easy to only ask for a sit directly in front - sometimes standing, sitting or lying on the floor, and in different situations.

I've added a cue, both a verbal 'sit', 'down' and 'stand' and a hand signal.

I've started to make it harder, adding speed of response as a criteria in familiar situations. If she doesn't respond when first asked I just turn away, and try again a little later. There is no point in training her to wait for repeated commands.

So today we took it on the road. The weather has improved, so we went to the park armed with treats and clicker. She was very good with sit and stand, but was reluctant to down. So I relaxed the criteria and guided her down with my hand - a lure without a treat.

Of course it is too early to say that she has learned any of these things - she is just a baby. But she has made an excellent start, and responding to the cues will soon become automatic.

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