Sunday, July 28, 2013

Lesson 2--Back to the Drawing Board

Silver was awful in class yesterday. Not a big deal, but she's learned that if she's confused and doesn't know what I want, she should just lie down, chin on the ground, and look all pitiful. She knows I won't fuss at her when that happens.

Silver Hornet
Silver does "down" when she wants to, but not when I ask her to.

She'll make eye contact, for which I click+treat. Then we tried touch-the-cup, but she wasn't playing. I could put a treat on the cup and wait for her to touch it, but she turned around and laid down. (On today's practice, I kept her moving around so she couldn't lie down.) She still doesn't touch the cup to get a treat, and if she doesn't learn that her behavior dictates when treats occur, she won't get the hang of clicker training, and I really don't see her being willing to engage in any other kind of lesson.

Then, in class, it was time to practice down. You don't teach down by putting any physical pressure on the dog. You use treats to lure the dog into position, and you use something called "shaping"--where you don't wait until the whole trick is performed before you click+treat; instead, you click+treat when the dog even starts to perform the desired behavior. So we started the training, Silver lowered her head in the direction of the treat, and I clicked. That startled her and she jumped back and wouldn't try again. She didn't just lie down; she stretched as far away from me as she could (4' leash), turned her back on me, and then laid down. (While lying down is the behavior I wanted, she needs to learn to do it in response to a command from me--not because she's mad at me.)

We have two weeks before the next class. We'll keep working on this. She's not dumb--she's just confused. Once she gets the idea that she's controlling the treat dispenser (aka, me), I think things will go better. We can practice two or three times a day, just before mealtime, when Silver's hungry enough to be more cooperative.


When I tried to train Oreo before I took Jen's class, Oreo's reaction to training--and I wasn't doing clicker training--was much like Silver's reaction now. Oreo would give me a sad look (Poor fool human, I don't do this stuff), cross the room, lie down on her bed and refuse to look at me. So although Silver's behavior is frustrating, I know enough to realize this isn't going to be her behavior forever.

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In scary news...Sam's having a really bad day today. He's not walking well; his left rear foot is knuckling, and if he puts it down correctly, he's limping--and he won't lie down and stay down, which makes me think he's in pain. (The foot-thing might just be that the foot fell asleep the last time he was sleeping.) About 90 minutes ago I gave him his usual evening pills; and just I threw in an extra tramadol and gabapentin for him. He's lying down now (but breathing more heavily than I think he should be), and he'll get more meds later tonight. We'll see how he is tomorrow. Poor baby.

--Working on the orange thing. I'm not as far along as I thought I was. The skein of remaining yarn was loose and floppy, and I think part of it must have been dangling off the scale. But I've rewound the yarn into a snug ball, and when I weigh that, there are more grams (36 of them) than I wanted there to be. I'm knitting tonight (and planning to stay up late because I slept all morning). Tomorrow needs to be an all-work/no-knitting day (so I can earn some money).
--Tomorrow also needs to be a grocery shopping day. I'm getting low on almost everything.

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