Monday, July 03, 2006

Back to Work

I was out of town for a week (family reunion), but Laev was happy to welcome me home. Today my afternoon session was canceled, so I took Laev to the great room for some shaping.

First, I pulled a tower of rolling file crates into the center of the room, and we worked on going around them. This is something that I should have taught months ago but have been lazy about; eventually it will turn into a blind search behavior and a useful agility send, but for right now, it's a cute trick involving the stacked file crates in the great room. Laev caught on quickly for a right-hand turn about the tower (what I want for a blind search) and I was able to get distance up to 10-12' with no problems. Then I started to add a temporary cue ("go") and a hand signal, which will eventually be refined to "revier" and a smaller hand signal. Then, pushing my luck, I started discrimination in asking for right-hand OR left-hand turns, differentiated by my using an alternate hand and angling my own body to make the correct choice easier. She was getting a high rate of success, but I was giving a lot of body help and it was a lot to ask, so I dropped that after a short time.

Then I moved the tower away and scooted my chair elsewhere in the room, so that we had a different environmental picture, and I started to shape a bow. When, oh when am I going to learn that I should be videotaping this stuff? It was just incredible to watch her think about what I clicked -- at first she kept offering spins and searched for a target, but I clicked for pausing in her wandering or for a lowering of her head. Quickly that became clicking for bending of elbows, and *then* the brain started working, and she experimented with lowering the head, bending elbows, lying down, facing different directions while doing all of the above, etc.

It wasn't totally smooth -- she gave me a number of nice bows but only in certain directions, due to superstition. She faced me and lay down too quickly for me to click the front end movement only, so no click. She puffed air, stood and faced the couch, where she bowed -- click. After that, every time she didn't get a click, she'd give me a perfect repetition while facing the couch. :-) Eventually, though, she was starting to figure out that she could do it in any direction.

We don't have a cue yet, but within 5 minutes she was giving me repeated full bows. I really love this clicker stuff. She's learned a little more about how to think through what I'd like to see and evaluate feedback, so further training and real life will be simpler. I really, really love this clicker stuff. And now she's taking a lovely nap in her crate, all tired from thinking so hard. I really, really, really love this clicker stuff. /grin/

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