Replicating Signal Issues

Since the Corgi's brokenness at his comeback trial two weekends ago I've been working down signals a lot.   Of course in "training mode" Lance is perfect so I've been working on tons and tons of rewards for responding, doing super long pauses, and quite a bit of proofing.  All going very well.

I have stumbled upon a way to replicate the brokenness though!  While I'm working on preparing the dog's meals if I randomly turn to Lance and flash a down signal he freezes or sits, just like at the trial!  Poor Corgi is such in complete food trance (often complete with trembling as he waits) that he is incapable of fully listening until the moment I pick up the dish and carry it to another location.  He knows as soon as I pick it up and move I'm almost ready to begin training.  While Lance is insane with food brain during meal training he is fully capable of listening at those times.  Apparently the moments before, he is not.  At least not to a signal, verbals he can still do.

Day 1 and 2 my plan was the same as at the trial.  Praise like crazy for whatever he did.  I just didn't reward it like I actually did in the warmup ring and run through at the trial.  That didn't work.  And I kicked myself for trying it as unlike at the trial, Lance wasn't not-performing due to stress of trial pressure/being wrong/whatever but was not-performing because he's a food hound Corgi and of course hasn't eaten in days and can't possibly think about anything other than survival.

So then the last few days I have switched to giving the signal, immediately following it by a verbal as soon as my hand gets back to my side and then walking over and petting/praising him for lying down.  He finds this annoying as it is making food prep take quite a bit longer.  If Lance does actually respond to the signal before my hand gets to my side and I've given the verbal I've been tossing him several pieces of his meal.

And this has been helping immensely.  Subtle difference as I still genuinely praise him for whatever he does.  But adding the verbal to remind him spoke through the food haze.  Or maybe it didn't make any extra difference and just the accumulation of  practice sessions with it has helped.  We have actually now had to work through anticipation issues.  As soon as I stop prepping and turn in Lance's direction he has been lying down.  I've completely been ignoring that and turning away from him like I never wanted anything from him in the first place.  And now Lance is starting to get that he has to remain in a stand for me to cue him.

We will see if it helps.  The usefulness of the food time exercise is diminishing every day as Lance is just starting to transfer into "training mode" earlier and earlier in the food prep process and out of food haze mode.  But the more I can find ways to replicate our issue outside of a trial setting the better.

Kristen  – ( October 1, 2015 at 4:02 PM )  

I'm always impressed with your ability to find additional environments/approaches for addressing your training challenges.

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