Operation Contact Proofing

The work has begun!  I hope to be able to get Lance to new places to work him nailing his 4 on the floor criteria but I am not sure how likely that will be.  So while waiting for run throughs here are the proofs I have done, mainly on the aframe and some on the dogwalk.

Handling:
- Running past
- Stopping early before the end
- front cross, rear cross, blind cross
- Recall over while I stand far beyond
- Hovering over

Distractions:
- Target just beyond reach of position
- Treats just beyond reach
- Food bowl with treats just beyond reach
- Thrown treat: Gotcha! Only once though, 2nd attempt was great
- Thrown bully stick

- Someone else holding out food: Gotcha!  I had Adam hold out food and he went for it the first time.  All repeated attempts were great.
- Someone else rolling food.

So far he is doing awesome and nailing his down at the end.  He is very tempted but being a good little boy. 
I only got him with two of the tests, a rolled treat and Daddy holding out food.  On our reattempts he passed the tests with flying colors.  On the positive side this means Lance is really understanding his job.  On the negative side, I really wish Lance would fail more so I can work on the issue and punish the wrong response (in terms of decreasing the behavior of extra strides before downing, not by using force) instead of just reinforcing the right response.  I don't want it to become like our stay issue, zero breaking in class but failing almost all the time when competing.  If we hadn't have this issues already crop up in competition then I would take a different perspective.  Generally when I am proofing something my goal is to really make them work hard, but not have them fail.  I want the dog to make that tough decision to perform that behavior and mark the instant they seem to have made the choice.

Does anyone have any other distractions we can work on?  Lance doesn't care for toys or I would have done everything with toys and food.

Crystal  – ( December 2, 2010 at 9:22 PM )  

How will you punish the wrong response?

I absolutely love hearing about how other people use non-force punishment. Is that weird? Oh well- I'm always interested to hear how other clicker-oriented people correct behaviors. It isn't talked about much, so I don't have a very clear picture of what "acceptable" punishment looks like.

Kristen  – ( December 2, 2010 at 9:39 PM )  

Can I send my dogs to you for contact proofing? Please?

Other dogs running nearby, parallel and towards or parallel and away? Non you people running around? Noises?

Laura, Lance, and Vito  – ( December 2, 2010 at 10:08 PM )  

Lance is sensitive so a "uh uh" said in a stern voice is pretty good to stop any behavior :) He also doesn't like being picked up, tolerates it ok, so I sometimes pick him up from the spot and carry him back to the start.

If it was Vito I would use the "ah ah" plus a mini timeout by making him sit or down for 5 seconds.

I always restart happy and get them revved up again. I will admit that with my dogs in everyday life behaviors while I remain hands off when using corrections I am quicker to anger with my personal dogs. So my verbal "ah ah" has also been paired with intimidation. Not ideal, but I think it might be one reason that my verbal corrections are very quick to stop any behavior.

Usually in a training session I don't use punishment but do use no reward markers (just not during shaping) to interrupt wrong responses. Or on certain behaviors (recalls and heeling come to mind) I move quickly to make their mistake more obvious so they have to work harder to fix it.

Laura, Lance, and Vito  – ( December 2, 2010 at 10:12 PM )  

Kristen- Clearly I have contact issues so why would you send them to me! Plus I don't do goldens :P

I like your idea about the other dog! Lance wouldn't be tempted to break in order to say hi, or to say hi to people, but the pressure of having another dog/person standing near his spot might make him take a few extra strides. And maybe a container of food sealed up and rolled would make some yummy noise hard to resist...

Crystal  – ( December 2, 2010 at 10:29 PM )  

Thanks, Laura. I've found "uh uh" to be all I need with Maisy, too. Time outs (as in, separated from me/my attention) are super-effective, too.

I was watching some old videos of me and Maisy and discovered that I used to use A LOT more verbal corrections, both in quantity and harshness to the tone. I'm not sure if I use less because I've grown/learned/changed, or if I use less because they worked...

Honey the Great Dane  – ( December 2, 2010 at 11:48 PM )  

Hi Laura - I don't understand Agility very well so I'm afraid I don't really have much to offer you in way of suggestion. My only thoughts were noises - if Lance is sensitive to those? Maybe people shouting? Or you looking away after giving him the command (sorry - that might not make sense as I'm not exactlu sure what you mean by the terms "contact" and "4 on the floor" and all that!

Anyway, I really wanted to say that I have very similar methods of "correction" to you in that it's mainly verbal and Honey seems to respond very well to that, so that I hardly need to use anything more. In our case, we use "No" although I vary the tone I say it and Honey seems to understand. So I do actually use "No" as a No Reward Marker in clicker training, said in a very calm, soft voice, with a laugh in it (to stop her continually doing the wrong thing - coz sometimes with HOney, if you do't stop her, she can get totally off-track and just keep bashing things with her paws!)- but I know I shouldn't - I should use a totally different word for a NRM but it's a bit late now and it doesn't seem to stop Honey from trying...

Anyway, I also use "NO!" as a correction - said in a very sharp, loud tone. Like you, I did couple intimidation with it in the beginning (and yes, I do very rarely use leash corrections) and I think, like you, that's why it is very effective now in stopping any behaviour. I find that I don't have to use such strong or harsh tones in my verbal corrections now compared to before.

But I do think that these sort of verbal corrections work better when you have a strong bond with your dog and do a lot together. ie. Honey actually cares that I'm displeased with her - therefore a verbal "telling off" is enough to stop her. I always get stumped when I meet other owners who ask me how I ask correct Honey and when I say I usually use a sharp "NO!" - they complain that their dogs take no notice when they are shouting "No' at them...and I haven't the heart to tell them that it's probably because they don't do enough training & activities with their dog so there isn't a strong enough bond and their dog doesn't really care if they're pissed off! :-)

Well, I could be wrong but that's the way I feel it is. You know like how we used to work for our favourite teachers because we wanted to please them and would be really upset if they were unhappy with us - not because they would really punish us physically or anything - just losing their approval was punishment enough! I do feel it is like that with Honey. But I don't think you can get that unless you spend a lot of time doing bonding activities with your dog and they see your approval & pleasure & attention as a reward in its own. People always think that dogs are born wanting to please us but I think you have work at it and earn it.

Anyway, good luck!
Hsin-Yi

Crystal  – ( December 3, 2010 at 9:14 AM )  

Hsin-Yi, I think your comment that verbal corrections work better when the dog-person relationship is strong is very interesting. It makes sense to me that a dog who is invested in its owner will care more about "disappointing" said owner. Or, if that's too anthropomorphic, it makes sense that a strong relationship yields a dog who is more sensitive to its owners moods. Either way... very interesting to think about.

Kristine  – ( December 3, 2010 at 12:35 PM )  

Other dogs, cats, strange people, children? It sounds like you have all the bases covered. Lance is a star! I hope that same ability translates into competition from now on.
Thanks for posting about this. It's given me some great ideas for my own training.

Catalina  – ( December 3, 2010 at 6:42 PM )  

I live near a school and there are lots of distracting noises during lunch - kids screaming, lots of whistles and adults yelling. I don't remember teachers yelling at kids when I was in school, but I can hear it every day now :)
My ultimate test for Tibby (some day far far in the future) will be to have her walk by the school and give me all her attention. Right now I get zero attention. Screaming kids are so tempting to her!
By the way, just wanted to let you know that your videos of Lance and Vito are the reason I started clicker training. I thought they were amazing!

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