eileenanddogs

Tag: communication

Retomar o significado: Generalização

Retomar o significado: Generalização

Para os meus leitores e seguidores portugueses.

Retomar o significado: Generalização (link)

Em Inglês

Obrigada Vitor Faibam e Claudia Estanislau pela ajuda na tradução para a versão portuguesa.

Small black and tan dog sits by her trainer. There is a fire extinguisher in the foreground.

Note to all my international readers and viewers: I will be happy to make more translations of this movie, if you want to help.  Thanks to Vitor and Claudia, if anyone wants to volunteer to translate, I can send a text document that has all the English from the movie, with spaces left for translation. It takes me only a couple of hours to change the text in the movie, and I can usually do it within a week or two of receiving the translation, depending on what else is in the queue. Hoping to get some takers!

And of course if you want to translate any other movie or post I would be flattered and will work with you on that.

Thanks for watching!

Obrigada por assistirem!

Coming up:

Eileenanddogs on YouTube

A Secret for Training Two Dogs

A Secret for Training Two Dogs

Tan and black dog lying down on a lavender mat
Clara on her mat during a difficult distraction

I think this is as close as I’ll ever come to a “how-to” blog. Here is my usual disclaimer: I am not a professional trainer and I have trained only my own dogs.

But there is a secret to training a dog to lie quietly on a mat, chair, or platform, unrestrained, while another dog is trained. I didn’t invent it. Sue Ailsby told it to me. I’m going to tell you the secret and discuss it conceptually. Once you get the concept, it all falls into place.

I will also put what I’m saying into practice and demo with my own dogs.

First, here’s what my dogs knew how to do before we started. I think these are the basic necessities.

Prerequisites

  1. The dog already knows how to stay on a mat or other station for 5 minutes while being reinforced.
  2. She can stay with some moderate distractions. Here are some examples. You can walk 20 feet away and back again. You can trot by her or jump up and down. You can drop a treat a few feet away. You can toss one away from her (like you were tossing it to another dog). You can walk right by her with a  toy in your hand. The dog must already have experience with distractions, because another dog in the room who will eventually get a lot of your attention is a huge distraction.
  3. You either have cues that are specific to each dog, or you can work something out as a way to get Dog A to stay while Dog B comes with you, and a way to release Dog A without releasing Dog B. Frankly though, they can learn part of this as you go along. I include some suggestions.
  4. She knows the other dog and neither is aggressive or overly obnoxious towards the other.

Here is what Sue Ailsby said that made it all fall into place for me.  Sue said that when you start, you need to concentrate on the dog who is learning to wait on the mat. Sounds obvious, right? But lots of people who go about this task the first time, including myself, do it exactly backwards. We start taking the active dog through her paces, and throw a treat to the dog on the mat every once in a while. This often does not work.

The other thing Sue said was to treat the dogs separately. Some people say to give the mat dog a treat every time the active dog earns one at first. Then thin the reinforcement down so that you give the mat dog a treat only sometimes when the other dog earns one.  (Emily Larlham does this in her excellent video on the subject.)

Sue recommends instead that each dog gets treats tied to what they are doing, so that the dog on the mat learns very clearly that she is getting reinforced for doing her job and it is not tied to what the other dog is doing. Sue’s method is a little harder for the human, but I think is very clear for the dogs. Each gets treated separately. (In reality, they frequently get treated in tandem, but I make a conscious effort to break the pattern as well.)

Dogs who live in households with other dogs learn very quickly that they don’t always get a treat when their sister does, and I think this is a good thing. So I like Sue’s method myself.

Cricket and Zani on mats in the kitchen. Good stuff tends to happen there!
Cricket and Zani on mats in the kitchen. Good stuff tends to happen there!

Showing the Dog She Is the Center of the Training

Here is how to apply what Sue said. We want to do everything we can to show the mat dog that she is the center of the training.

So first, ask yourself, when starting a training session with my dog, how does she know? Here is my own list.

  • I get out treats. A camera perhaps. (My dogs get very happy when they see me carry around the camera tripod.)
  • I often look in my Training Levels checkoff list binder.
  • I may gather some gear and props. A leash. A target object.
  • I take the dog I’m going to train by herself to a particular place. I have about 5 places in my house where I commonly train. If there are other dogs there, I crate them.
  • I look at that dog, talk to that dog, and generally orient my body towards that dog
  • I reinforce that dog. It if is a new or difficult behavior, I reinforce heavily.
  • I release the dog frequently or at least periodically (mini releases with the click; longer ones when we take a little break or set up for a new behavior)

All these things are what tell the dog that she is being trained. So to apply Sue’s recommendation,  I am going to get the “mat dog” to do all of these things, then bring in the active dog as a distraction.

How I Proceeded

  • I got out the treats as described above
  • I took Zani alone into my front room alone and cued to get her on mat.
  • I did a little mat training with some of the distractions I listed above.
  • Then I let Summer, the distraction dog, into the room but stayed focused on Zani and kept the treats coming.
  • When I started to do a few more things with Summer, I spoke quietly to her, trying to be as clear as possible that I was speaking to her alone.
  • I often turned my back on Zani to cue a behavior for Summer, then turned back to Zani and treated her.
  • With my back turned, sometimes I gave hand signals to Summer that Zani couldn’t see.
  • I started with Summer doing very easy, calm behaviors with minimal movement. I worked up to more movement, but kept a variety.
  • During our second session I did short duration behaviors with Summer, releasing her with “OK,” which is also Zani’s release word. I continued to be careful to speak directly but quietly to Summer. I treated Zani for staying every time I released Summer.
  • I did my best to be considerate of Summer, the active dog, who was probably getting less attention than normal when we train.

Releases

I started this project without having a completely clean system of releases for individual dogs. Ideally, I suppose I would have had that in place. There are several ways to go about this. Patricia McConnell, PhD, the eminent animal behaviorist, reported that her border collies could never learn individual releases from stays of the type, “Luke, OK,” because each dog would release on the “OK.” She instead taught them to release individually on a singsong call of their name (here’s her video demonstration). However, some people do direct separate cues to their dogs using their names. Emily Larlham who recommends this video as a prerequisite to her training multiple dogs video, demonstrates her dogs responding to individually directed cues, and she releases them separately in the latter video.

I have had moderate success with directing individual cues to my dogs without formally training that, just incorporating some habits into our day to day living. Like Dr. McConnell, I use a special version of their names to invite one to come with me and for the others to wait. But I actually think that teaching a dog to wait on a mat in the area while another is trained is a way of teaching the kind of differentiated individual response we are talking about. For me, there is some tolerance for error in that situation, as long as I don’t apply any penalty for a dog releasing when I intended the cue for another. It is neither as crucial nor as difficult as when you have a group of dogs all waiting to be cued to do the same exciting thing, such as go out the door.

Videos

The first video shows parts of Zani’s very first two sessions of staying on the mat while another dog is worked. I chose Summer according to my guideline #4 above. Clara could possibly be obnoxious to Zani if Clara is the working dog. We’ll work up to that.

Video link for email subscribers

The second video shows Clara doing what is for her a very advanced version. (I taught her the basics when she was about a year old.) She is staying on her mat while I work up to a pretty rowdy game of tug with Zani. She gets up one time when I accidentally say “OK” while tugging with Zani (I say it twice! Knock head on wall!). But she corrects herself immediately. Her head is clearer than mine!

Video link for email subscribers

What’s Next?

You probably noticed I didn’t switch the dogs back and forth. I plan to do that after each of my three dogs in training can successfully stay on their mat while I work either of the other two.

Sable dog on a mat on a sidewalk
Summer very pleased to be on her mat at an outdoor restaurant

The cool thing, though, is that once you can switch dogs back and forth fluently, Mr. Premack can come to visit (the Premack principle states that behaviors can reinforce other behaviors) and we won’t have to keep that high rate of reinforcement for the dog on the mat. Her major reinforcement for staying quietly on the mat will be the chance to be the working dog. I already take turns with my dogs in almost all training sessions; the major difference will be that they are now closed into crates or the next room. Soon they’ll be right there where the action is. It sounds like win/win to me.

I’ll let you know how it works out.

Update: I later successfully taught individual release cues. You can read about that in the following posts

Thanks for reading! 

Copyright 2013 Eileen Anderson

Eileenanddogs on YouTube

But How Do I Tell My Dog She’s Wrong?

But How Do I Tell My Dog She’s Wrong?

Syn
HUNTER SYNC or SWYM at DRAGONAIR getting her Apprentice Water Dog title and making the right choice with gusto.

This is a common question for beginning clicker trainers. First we learn the rudiments of marker training: that if we mark and reinforce the behavior we want, it will increase until we can eventually put it on cue.

But at first most of us feel like we are doing only half our job. We have been telling the dog when she does something right. That’s great! Hardly anybody disagrees with doing that. But it seems to us that we also need to explain to her what is wrong.

How can she really understand what’s right if she doesn’t know what’s wrong? Whether it is purely cultural or a primate thing, as some have suggested, it is deeply imprinted in us humans that pointing out mistakes, which can have a punishing effect, is essential to teaching and learning.

First of all, many studies have shown that it is not necessary for an animal to make mistakes, much less be told about them, to learn a behavior to fluency and extreme reliability. Also, I have already written about the research that shows that mixing reinforcement and punishment is actually detrimental to learning. (You can read Jean Donaldson’s magnificent rant on the subject here.)

But my point in this post is much more “nut and bolts.” Let’s take Josephine the Average Trainer, who may be a beginner and in any case is not conducting her training in a Skinner box (an environment that can block out any extraneous environmental events and help make training very “pure”). Josephine’s dog is probably making a fair number of errors. So the question is, why not punish them somehow? The punishment doesn’t have to be harsh, and clicker trainers generally support the thoughtful use of negative punishment, where something the dog wants is taken away after they perform an undesired behavior. Wouldn’t that speed things up by making the process ultra clear? Increase the right stuff and decrease the wrong stuff, all at the same time?

Watch this video and come back. Pay special attention to what happens at 0:45 – 0:48 and especially 0:56 – 1:01.

First, wasn’t that phenomenal? That is Sue Ailsby and her young Portuguese Water Dog Syn. Sue is the author of Training Levels: Steps to Success, in my opinion the best book available for someone training a dog on their own. In the space of one short training session, Sue teaches Syn to stand, to hold the stand for a few seconds’ duration, and to maintain the stand while being touched. Sue shared with me that the session before editing was about 10 minutes long, with some of that time being spent on Syn’s learning process and part of it dealing with the issues that always come up when you try to film something.

Sue made the video for the Training Levels Yahoo group. Some members had questions about teaching a stand. One of the things Sue is showing is that you don’t have to wait and capture the action of standing up; you can click while the dog is already standing and they will quickly learn that that position pays off.

But what I love about the video is that it shows a clicker-savvy dog learning from the click and from the absence of the click what pays off. That’s right. Absence of a click was all Syn needed to understand right away that downs and sits (and putting paws on stools) were not what Sue wanted in this session. Nothing else was necessary.

Absence of a click is generally agreed to employ extinction, another way animals and humans can learn. Extinction means not reinforcing a behavior that has been previously reinforced. It too can be an aversive process. But I think most of us would agree that Sue’s just waiting for Syn to try something else (especially since trying stuff is itself a behavior that has been reinforced) is a pretty darn painless response to Syn’s mistake. For most dogs with most trainers it would be the least aversive response by the human.

The video helped me put something together in my mind. Trainers who train primarily with positive reinforcement often say that most trainers who rely on punishment are announcing their lack of skill. Folks, this is not just rhetoric, and this video with a highly skilled trainer demonstrates that. Syn can learn from the lack of click so quickly because Sue’s timing is good. If instead of Sue we had someone a lot less skilled (like me), they would likely have clicked a handful of behaviors they didn’t want, and perhaps failed to click some really good stands. That would mean that the percentage of good information the dog was getting would be much lower. She would then be much more likely to choose the “wrong” behavior. And when that happens is when most of us are tempted to use punishment.

I don’t know about you all out there, but this video inspires me to work harder on my timing. And in the meantime, remind myself that even with errors on my part, just marking what is right, to the best of my ability, will work. We just may not be as fast as Syn and Sue.

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for:

Eileenanddogs on YouTube

Dogs Who Like to be Petted or Touched

Dogs Who Like to be Petted or Touched

Today I am offering more examples of dogs who enjoy being petted, or enjoy other types of human touch. (This is a followup to “Does Your Dog REALLY Want to Be Petted?”) And I’m encouraging humans again to figure out what their dog likes and doesn’t like. If your dog doesn’t like petting, maybe you can figure out an alternative behavior for yourself that both you and your dog can enjoy.

I am blessed with Clara, who thrives on touching and being touched, and has since she was a baby. Here she is at 12 weeks and 14 months. I am doing the “consent test” in both clips; stopping the petting and waiting to see if she solicits more. She generally answers with an emphatic Yes. There’s also a “stupid human” trick though, when I am continuing to ooh and ahh and pet her while she is squirming and obviously done with the whole thing. Oops.

Some dogs like other kinds of touch from humans. Here is my friend’s chihuahua, who blisses out when I gently, gently wobble her body back and forth.

And here is elderly Cricket, who really enjoys wiping her face all over any part of my body or clothing that she can reach. I think it makes her feel safe that she can control the touch this way, too. If I were to handle her the way I handle Clara, she would be desperately trying to escape.

In a previous post we saw Zani saying “No” to petting, but she enjoys lap time and snuggling up close.

Zani isn’t interested in being petted, but she likes to snuggle

I scoured YouTube one evening as well, and dug up videos of a few more dogs who seemed to enjoy petting (and saw dozens who didn’t). In many of these videos, the dog doesn’t enjoy every single thing the human does. But they appear to enjoy the petting and touching in general and ask for more. If you can find some more good ones–or think that any of these aren’t good examples, let me know. You can tell from the titles that these folks have all done something like a consent test, whether they knew it was called that or not. (In some of the videos, the people appear to have reinforced  demanding behavior from their dogs. That’s a subject for another day!)

If you are going to watch only one, watch the first one. It is especially moving. The Doberman in the movie is a rescued stray and is so obviously pleased with human touch and contact. (As of 9/16/12 he is available for adoption through Doberman Rescue of the Triad, covering Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia, and West Virginia in the U.S.)

Beamer – Rescue Doberman

Cutest dog ever: don’t stop petting me (rat terrier mix?)

My Pug will not let you stop petting him

Don’t stop petting the dog (labrador)

Pierre – CDC foster dog/” Don’t stop petting me!!!” (poodle/chihuahua mix)

Get Pet 101: Obsessive chocolate lab wants to be pet more

Thanks to Nancy S. for helping me look over these.

Discussions coming soon:

Thanks for reading!

Does Your Dog REALLY Want to be Petted?

Does Your Dog REALLY Want to be Petted?

Newsflash. Not all dogs want to be petted. But you wouldn’t know it from watching videos on YouTube.

What you can learn on YouTube is that there are lots of dogs whose owners _think_ they are enjoying petting. But they aren’t. This is another one of those disconnects between dog and people language. People who adore their dogs–and whose dogs love them–post videos of said dogs saying in every polite way they know how that they would like the human to STOP.

Continue reading “Does Your Dog REALLY Want to be Petted?”
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