Go Click Challenge- Sticky Target (teaching a nose bridge)

This week's Go Click Challenge was to teach the dog "sticky target" or to have the dog keep it's nose pressed to a target for a duration of time rather then just one quick touch.  Vito and Lance have both a paw and a nose touch to a target lid and to my hand, but we have not done any duration work.  I don't think it would be that hard to get some time for a paw touch since the dog can continue to look at you and I've done a lot of shaping work with paws, but a sticky nose touch was going to be much harder.

As a twist this week, I decided to try and train the nose bridge that I've heard about from some of the obedience competition lists I am on.  From my understanding it is used to set the dog up at the start of each exercise and helps with attention.  It gives the dog a job to do so they aren't left on their own to simply look everywhere around the ring as they wait.  I don't know if I will ever use this behavior but I figured that it would be a fun thing to train for.  And who knows, Vito does seem like the type of dog who is going to need a constant job to do once we start trialing.  I'm pretty sure I won't be breaking off to do tricks in between exercises like I do with Lance as it's not hard to get Vito too riled up.  A simple good job pat can get Vito all wound up and excited.

Now Celeste does not free shape this behavior but rather uses her hands, a treat lure, and leash pressure to get the beginning steps.  But what's the fun in that?  So I set out to first teach the dogs to bump their nose on my two fingers regardless of where I held my hand.  They were a bit confused at first but of course it didn't take long to get this step down.  I then had them target my fingers in heel position so their heads lifted up to do so (yes, this meant that I had to either kneel on the floor with Lance or slouch my shoulder way down!).

Next was the challenge, duration.  I originally set out to simply select for only the slightly longer nose touches and build duration a 1/2 second at a time.  Wow was this hard.  It reminded me of the battle to get a solid hold on a retrieve and the months it took to get there.  But thinking of this sticky target behavior as a holding an object reminded me of a method I had heard of a long time ago in shaping a hold.  Sue Ailsby's (ah I love her!) Principle of Laziness states that it's easier to hold something then to grab it twice.  So in retrieval work when all you are getting is mouthing of the dumbbell, start to make the dog do two mouths before you click and treat.  It might look something like this:

grab-no click- dog is confused and gives you dirty look-grabs again-click/treat!
grab...........grab click/treat
grab.......grab click/treat
grab....grab click/treat
grab.grab click/treat
grraaabbb click/treat Jackpot!!!!!

Basically the dog is getting faster and faster between each grab since he knows he won't be treated in between.  At some point the dog will think something like "hey, why don't I try just one longer grab instead of tacking off my mouth just to put it back on again, seems a whole lot easier!"  And of course that longer grab is your first mini hold of the dumbbell!

I had never tried that method before because I just couldn't get myself to stop clicking the very mini holds I was getting as I was trying to just select the slightly longer ones.  But of course as their range was only .2 seconds long to .5sec it was basically a crap shoot and it was extremely difficult to pick out the .5 seconds holds from the .2 seconds hold.  Doing this current challenge though inspired me to give this 2 grab method a shot.  Of course I would be asking for 2 nose touches rather then 2 bites, but the concept of getting duration was the same.

The Results!

Very interesting!  The 2 touch method enabled me to start working on duration much faster then just the normal shaping method.  Of course you still have to switch over to just picking longer holds pretty quickly as pretty soon you are no longer asking for 2 touches, but it seemed to give me a head start on it.  We still have a long way to go and I am still getting 2 quick little bops on a pretty regular basis.  I also cheated a little bit and tried holding a treat above their head with my other hand, but that only seemed to confuse them as they stopped focusing on my fingers and just stared at the treat.  It did allow me to just rest my fingers on their nose while their head was up, but I didn't have any upward pressure that I will need.

I'll also admit that I was pretty frustrated by this challenge and I think I started working on the hold before they really understood to touch my 2 fingers when they were held up high.  Vito is doing much better then Lance but it's probably because I'm not as frustrated with him.  Lance keeps trying to lift one of his paws in the air at the same time and it's really pissing me off.  Ugh, I'm sorry Lance!

Kathie R  – ( March 28, 2010 at 8:49 PM )  

Interesting post Laura. Don't know if I'll get to the 'sticky target' stage. I'm still working on the quick touch to the hand, hoping it will transition to heeling work. I attended one of Celeste's workshops last summer and tried the nose bridge thing and the bounce with Jackson. Didn't get too far with that - I think it's easier to bounce a bc than a dane :) But, I definitely want to do more work with the touch and the clicker.

Ninso  – ( March 29, 2010 at 10:52 AM )  

That's an interesting idea! I had a really hard time with Lok's retrieve and he still doesn't have a very long hold. Jun was a piece of cake for the retrieve and it's her favorite trick. I never have to bend down to pick up anything anymore. I can just tell my little helper to get it and she'll pick it up and shove it in my hand.

And thanks for admitting that you get pissed off with your dogs too! I know it's not really fair to them and it's MY job to find a better way to communicate, but sometimes it's just like "Why are you not getting this?!?!?"

Megan  – ( March 31, 2010 at 9:43 PM )  

I was curious how this would turn out. I wimped out (and ran out of time) teaching a sticky target. I thought about teaching a nose-to-hand target, but Buzz actually has a nice side-of-muzzle to hand target that I inadvertently taught during agility class. In order to keep him occupied, I asked for a duration behavior that kept him occupied.

Now I do want to try that with Bailey though.

Sorry it didn't go well with Lance. I definitely have days like that where I say "HOW IS THIS NOT CLEAR?!"

Laura, Lance, and Vito  – ( March 31, 2010 at 10:03 PM )  

i'm still going to play around with it a bit. today though I decided to just go with a plain sticky target and started with my flat hand which ddidn't go great. but then I grabbed a butter lid and made rapid progress with Lance. As in Lance has a 3 second sticky target in one session. Vito not so well. This time Vito was the one not in control of his body parts and couldn't keep his damn paw off the target. it was like he knew I wanted the nose but slowly he lost control of his paws and they would creep up towards it.

Honey the Great Dane  – ( April 1, 2010 at 7:42 AM )  

Fascinating post! Thanks for sharing this! I have never thought of trying to train Honey to actually HOLD her nose on a target, although like you, I'd trained the nose & paw targets on a range of things...I might try to get some duration next time we're looking for somethign neew to train!

funny - a new trick I've been teaching Honey is to rest her chin on something on cue - whether it is the counter or my shoulder or lap or whatever - she did this naturally when we first moved here and I thought it was cute so I captured it - anyway, with that, I have managed to get duration much more easily by just withholding the treat. I also use "Wait" - because I use it in our other dance moves to indicate that she should pause in that pose for a while (eg, bow) - so don't know if that extra commant might help with teaching a duration...


achieve1dream  – ( April 3, 2010 at 6:29 PM )  

Very interesting. I understand your frustration. I get like that a lot. I must learn to have more patience lol. I think you're doing great. I like the concept, but I think it might just be pushing it to try to get it in one week for the challenge. I'd take a break probably (that's what I do when I get frustrated with something) and try again later. Good luck!!

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