June 14, 2005

Sit Happens

Pat Miller says that anytime you and your dog are together, either you are training her or she is training you. So today was spent establishing routines. It might have looked as though we were just playing puppy games but we were working on quite a few things.

Dusty already has a nice sit as a 'please' when she wants a treat or a game, so I put that on cue. She is happy to go to her crate to eat or play with a toy so again I added a cue. Similarly for going outside to pee.

In clicker training the first step is to get the behavoiur. This is done by:
  1. capturing
  2. shaping
  3. luring.

With the things that she was already doing, it was simply a matter of clicking and treating when she did them, capturing the behaviour, and then adding the cue "sit" and "in your crate". We are also using "go pee", but I'm not using the clicker here.

I know lots of people do use the clicker for house training, but the essence of c/t is the precision of the click as a marker of the desired behaviour. So if the behaviour isn't precise, you can't mark it with precision. It is not peeing that I'm training, or going outside - it's going outside to pee. Difficult to mark with precision. So most of the time I'm still taking her out after naps and eating, but she has taken herself out several times today and hasn't toileted inside. When she goes on the mulch, she gets an enthusiastic good girl and a chest scritch or a game.

I'm also a big believer in Pat's philosophy that management comes first, training second. I've been micromanaging Thommo and Dusty's relationship, not letting them together in any situation that might cause conflict - at the door or in the kitchen. Thommo is much more tolerant of her than he was of Diesel, he doesn't mind her being on my lap, for example. Still, they can establish a relationship in low stress situations and I'll reward him for appropriate interaction for a while. The crates are a godsend for this, and to think I was opposed to them for a long time - though the soft-sided Cabanas are less prison-like than the metal ones.

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