Friday, November 11, 2005

Laev Has a New Trick!

Man, nothing like a really good training conference to make one feel like a slacker.

My first day at ClickerExpo, I met a 10-month spaniel puppy who knew 60 cues. Sheesh, I thought. Laev's nearly that old, and I don't have any idea how many cues she knows, but I don't think it's 60.

(I got a little ego boost, though, when a number of people who shouldn't know me from Adam's off ox recognized Shakespeare from the very first ClickerExpo in 2003 -- "oh, didn't he win some shaping award?" (it was the Clicker Challenge competition) -- and when Kathy Sdao, one of my favorite trainers, recognized me in the hallway. So maybe the older dog and I have done a few things after all.)

So I decided to start shaping some new things. I'm trying to do more shaping, to work her brain a little harder, whereas before I'd done a lot of luring to help her be correct right from the beginning. No more help! You're a big dog now, you can think for yourself.

This week we started shaping article indication, which isn't too bad for being less than 48 hours old :-) but obviously still needs some work. We also played a "find heel" game in which she has to come back to heel position (just standing) for her next click and a thrown treat.

And today we shaped a new behavior and have already put it on cue. At "Strike a pose," Laev will go to the overturned cooler and stand dramatically with her front paws on it and her head high and alert, looking much like Lassie might if Lassie were a natural-eared gawky young Doberman with a tail.

Just to prove we had it on cue, I finished the session by mixing up sits, downs, and poses randomly. She never misses a down, ever, and she was pretty solid on the Strike a Pose, but she seemed to have totally forgotten what a sit was! Goofy puppy. We got everything right a couple times in a row and then I gave her the rest of her meal in her crate, where she promptly crashed and has not stirred yet.

Oh, yeah, another thing I love about shaping -- it wears a dog out more than physical exercise!

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