Wednesday, March 21, 2007

1 click, on cue.

Something I love about clicker training is the sheer speed of it.

Yes, I know that initial training can be slow and can feel slower (usually feeling much slower than it really is, if we actually time and track it). But once the dog has learned how to learn, future learning is unbelievably fast.

I felt really awful this afternoon when I took Laev out to the car, so she could ride along to the farm store with me to buy some new fence. (We have to replace the fence line that can't hold up to Laev.) However, I was delayed, and in the end I realized I didn't have time to hit the store before my private lesson after all. I took Laev from the car to her outdoor kennel, and she did NOT want to stay there -- she even spat out the bully stick I gave her and instead stuck her head through the gate to be petted. Oh, I was the worst person alive; all my dog wanted to do was to be with me, and I was kenneling her instead of taking her someplace fun. I felt awful.

So tonight when I got home, I brought Laev into the kitchen for some training time with me. Laev knows a stand hand signal, with my right hand, but she doesn't know the verbal. I'd like to have a left-hand signal so that I don't need to turn my body to cue the stand and so that I can fade it to something legal for competition. So I brought Laev to heel.

"Stand," I said, opening my left hand over her head. She moved out of the sit, probably just because I spoke and she expected something to happen, and I clicked. I went to the counter and treated.

One click, following a novel hand signal and a verbal cue I'd bet money she didn't know. I waved her to heel and tried again. Cue, stand, click. Cue, stand, click. Cue, stand, click.

Okay, I thought, but does she really know the new hand signal, or is she picking up on that verbal I thought she didn't know? I set her up again. "Stand," I said, without the hand signal. No reaction. "Stand," I said again, and Laev adjusted her sit hopefully.

Nope, it's the hand signal. The one she saw a single time, accompanying an accidental behavior which I clicked.

This kind of thing makes Laev a joy to train when I plan well. When I don't plan well, er, well, then I get a good lesson in why I should plan well.

My next goal is to put the stand on verbal cue as well. :-)

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