Friday, January 02, 2009

Utility Articles

I started teaching scent articles just before Christmas. In the beginning, she was so quick to simply do *something* with a dumbbell that she wasn't pausing to think about what was getting clicked. Previous learning was over-riding everything; she knew she had to grab that object for me!

I started clicking for just nose touches to the correct article, interrupting the retrieve, and Laev grasped the scent discrimination idea within a couple of days -- which was longer than I would have guessed it would take, but still pretty fast for the utility scent exercise.

But that wasn't the end of the job, oh no. I've discovered that Laev gets so wired at the thought of scenting that she barrels into the pile, air-scents the target, and grabs the first object in that direction. She is too excited to focus on the exact origin of the scent and wants to just be lazy and go with the immediate area.

Sound familiar?! That is exactly what we've been fighting in tracking!

So I'm hoping that this will improve her tracking concentration as well. I can't really affect her in tracking much -- physically slowing her makes her hectic, so I'm left with trying to induce slow concentration instead of the self-reinforcing air scenting -- but I can establish consequences in this kind of scent work. Laev seemed to get it more quickly when I snatched up the correct dumbbell after she grabbed the wrong one, preventing her from switching to the right one and requiring a reset before she could have another chance at earning her treat.

We'll see how progress goes. It's telling that she got the concept within a couple of days but now is stymied by her old nemesis of self-reinforcing speed.

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