Distinguishing Verbal Cues- Nose vs Paw Touches, part 2

Well the dogs have been learning their touch vs whack cue for an additional 5 or so sessions since the last post.  Both are doing pretty well but it is still a challenge for them.  My guess is that they are hovering around 70% correct but I'm not good at actually keeping records.  I've switched to holding the target in my hand the whole time so I can easily swipe it away if I see them guessing wrong and so it eliminates the ability to paw and nose at the same like they can when it's on the floor.  Both dogs are doing better with the target held right below nose height.

I feel like they go back and forth by day who is doing better.  Lance today did fabulous with the transitions but overall gets more paws wrong then noses.  He is still very hesitant about being wrong but praising him like crazy prevent him from getting too stressed.  After a couple of paws in row today, Lance started offering waving to me when I held the target in.  I told him to just sit and wait, but of course he got the next one wrong since I then told him to touch!

Vito is still spazing.  I reward him waiting for the cue almost as much as I reward the actual behavior!  Vito much prefers the whack to touch.  His accuracy on the target has diminshed a ton as well.  While Vito is mostly offering the correct behavior he has turned it into whacking my arm and then turning his head away right before he noses the target.  Right now my plan is to let this slide a bit as long as he is using the correct body part and then to hopefully regain accuracy on actually hitting the target when he is more confident on the verbal cues.  I have also discovered that holding the target out to the right side of his body almost always causes him to whack rather then touch.  He really believes that he can't possibly turn his head to the side that much and finds it much easier to hop a paw towards my arm.  I'm not sure if this is a side effect from the limp training I've been doing with that paw or what.  It's cute, but totally wrong!

Overall I'm happy with how the dogs are doing but they still have a ways to go.  I really want to try Arwen's suggestion in part 1 on teaching the behaviors on 2 different looking targets and then gradually moving the targets closer and closer until they overlap.  I don't know if this would be easier for the dogs or not but it sounds interesting!  But I'm going to stick out my original method for now as I think it would only confuse them at this point to switch.

Vito still sleeps like a puppy.

And in another rant, the ferrets were very naughty today!  The in-laws got us a new couch for Christmas (yay!!!) and in less then a week the 2 girls managed to somehow get stuck under the lining on the bottom.  We didn't even think they could fit into the very tiny space under the couch but we should have known!  We had to tear out the staples in order to free them today.  And while I was quickly grabbing the other ferrets to put them away I managed to send Opie into a panic, (not sure how but I did grab forcefully in my rush and he is deaf), and Opie attacked me.  He would not let go of my wrist for the longest time and I now have several very large bumps on my arm.  Hurts like crazy.  But this is the first time in over 10 years that I have gotten bit by a ferret.  Sure they need to be taught as youngsters that you don't nip human skin, similar to puppies, but I've never gotten actually bit by one.  Opie was really panicked and my arm is paying for it!

Update:  Go to part 3, and part 4 of the nose vs paw touch trick

Mango  – ( December 24, 2009 at 5:11 AM )  

Hey Vito! Good job on the weave poles.

Sounds like total ferret mayhem over there. Stuck in the couch? Yikes. I am sure Opie didn't mean to hurt your mom, just having a brain fart.


ClassyChassy  – ( December 24, 2009 at 8:39 AM )  

Have a Merry Christmas! Have enjoyed reading your blog and training experiences with your pups! The sleeping picture is adorable! You sure have naughty ferrets - they get into everything! I found a new home for the 2 I had - they were rescues, and I had a growth removed from Diesel's toe, and when he healed, I put them for adoption. The new owner just adores them, and I had fun with them while they were here. The learning experience for me is worth the care while an animal is healing!

Honey the Great Dane  – ( December 26, 2009 at 5:26 PM )  

Just wanted to drop by and wish you Merry Christmas! And hey - love your new look blog! :-)

Your ferret story made me laugh. And the dogs sound like they're doing great on this new training challenge. I ran through some of Honey's obedience exercises for the first time this morning, since she arrived last Sun (and her time in kennels) and she was bit "rusty" - just slow and not snapping to it, although that just might be Honey being her usual placid self or the fact that it was already 32 degrees outside at 8am and the poor dog is really struggling to cope with the heat & humidity in her new home! :-)

Hope you have a great time over the holiday season -

Hsin-Yi & Honey

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