Good Morning crazy dog people!
Today we'll be expanding on last week's foundational training exercise, Unsolicited Eye Contact, and we'll talk a little bit about operant behavior and what the benefits are of working with an operant dog.
We'll also talk a little bit about training in general and tie it in to modern day politics - it is a political blog after all.
Hop on over the bump for more...
Summary of Last Week's Train
Last week we talked about unsolicited eye contact.
What we're going to do is to get a couple of yummy treats and go into a quiet, calm place ( kitchen or bathroom are ideal ). Really nice stuff something your dog would die for. Put one in each hand. Hold your hands at your side or at belt height slightly out to the side of your body.
Your dog will lick, bite, paw, sniff... he'll go back and forth from treat to treat. Just wait. Don't say anything, don't move your hands, do nothing until your dog looks into your eyes.
Wait for your dog to look into your eyes.
At the exact moment he makes eye contact (you'll feel it) say yes and give him the yummy treat.
It is very important that you don't move your hands. Every time you move your hands you're creating opportunity. We want the dog to realize that the sniffing, licking, biting, pawing... none of that crap is going to work. Biting doesn't work. Licking doesn't work.
"Jeez what works, Mom?"
Your dog will look up into your eyes, you'll say yes and give him a cookie.
The only behavior that works, the only behavior that offers opportunity is eye contact.
It seems as if several people here already have a history of eye contact with their dogs which is great; eye contact is a powerful bond between dog and handler. Unfortunately, not many people use eye contact to the fullest, and are only getting a taste of the power of hooking up with their dogs eye to eye.
* Emphasis mine...
Hey, great topic (none / 0)
I look forward to reading it.
My when working, dog's name, btw, is "watch" or "with me" not "Luna" (which as you say, is likely to get ignored after awhile).
Oh, and we recently got certified through the Delta Society as a pet partner team. For the last month or so we have been making weekly visits to a nursing home. Luna, diva that she is, loves the attention.
<right>keres @ Booman Tribune</right>
If you're calling for eye contact, you're essentially tugging on your dog's shirtsleeve like,"Mom... Mom...", and we all know how much Mom likes that..."WHAT!".
So asking for eye contact can be a drag from the dog's point of view - it's a hassle.
The other problem I saw with the implementation of eye contact from comments is that people are not using it to their advantage. They're getting it, but they're not capitalizing on it and using it to their advantage. It'd be like getting a sit down with your Senator and talking about baseball.
When we get our dog's attention we need to capitalize on it and use it to our advantage.
The Benefits of an Operant Dog
Last year we conducted a series of 8 seminars across Europe. While in Poland, my friend, and God Father of Dog Frisbee in Poland, Darek, and I were talking about our style of dog training, and I compared it to American sociopolitical life - "You can have anything you want, this or that, and then I make sure that the decision is a no brainer. In one hand there's a hundred dollar bill. In the other a pile of crap. Take your pick. It's your choice."
So what we do is we give the dogs no brainer decisions, and we leave that decision entirely up to them. It's false dichotomy, not at all unlike the acceptable range of decisions we are 'allowed' to make politically and socially, as laid out by the Corporate Media.
"We can attack Iraq or do nothing."
"We can destroy our economy or save the environment."
We, in America, are operant dogs. That's why there's so much power in support of America and in support of stupid policy. "It's our choice."
Contrast this with Russia. Russia was compulsion training. The same kind of false dichotomies were set up, but it was a Do it or else kind of situation.
Real quick, before I bring it back to the dogs, the same thing is on display with the Conservative v Liberal ideologies: Do it the way I want, right now - "You cannot be a musician!" vs Do it your way and I'll support you - "Of course you can be a musician, but you have to work hard to succeed."
I, obviously, take the left path in working with my dogs.
I set up situations where the dog has easy decisions to make, no brainers that fit my needs, and I let them make those decisions then I reward them for it. This creates autonomy.
The dog starts to believe that they are in charge of situations, that they manipulate me, and then I prove that they're right.
The definition of an Operant Dog is a dog that understands that their behavior controls their consequences.
"Watch this, I'm going to make my mom give me a cookie," then the dog walks up, sits and looks into the handler's eyes, and BAM! they get a cookie.
This is on display with the dog that grabs a sock and drums up a game of chase. How hard is it to stop that behavior? How about barking for attention?
These are behaviors that the dog has learned on their own. They are based on operant conditioning. I grab the sock, my handler chases me, WHAT FUN! I bark and my handler pays attention to me.
If we engage in these games and reward their behavior, the behavior get stronger. Sometimes they seem impossible to stop. They become default - It becomes what they do.
That's the benefit of an Operant Dog. They learn to manipulate their consequences based upon their behavior totally independent of the handler's cues, and those behaviors become habit.
It's like magic.
Creating Habits out of Games
If you've done eye contact as laid out above, you've set up a game. "I look at you, you give me cookies."
Well, that's all nice and good, but how do we use that to our advantage?
Leash your dog up and walk to the front door, and wait. When the dog looks at you,
mark yes! and give them a cookie.
In no time, the dog will be sitting and looking at you.
If we do this enough times, we have a habit of sitting and looking at the handler when we get to a door.
No more telling the dog to sit at the door.
No more fighting to back up at the front door.
The dog will get to a door situation and do what works, which is sitting and looking at the handler.
When we start to open the door, just open it a crack, block it and wait.
If the dog tries to get out, ignore it. When he realizes that cramming his body through that tiny crack won't work, he'll go back to what works, looking at you - yes!, give a cookie.
Dog looks at you, yes!, go outside as the reward.
This is probably not going to go all that swiftly on the first attempt, but just be patient. You should notice that your dog returns to eye contact quicker each time.
Once the dog realizes that sitting and looking at you works to get outside, they'll do it readily and willingly. It might take a few sessions to get it smooth, but once it's smooth, it's a done deal. Door problems solved.
Work 2-3 times per day, for 3 minutes max, up the ante by cracking the door a bit more and you should have a well minded dog at the door in 3 or 4 days, max.
Fighting the Classical Condition
If your dog sees a leash and goes ape and bounces off the walls, you are going to have a bit of a problem with this drill.
Your dog has become classically conditioned to the appearance of the leash: "Leash comes out = I take you for a drag".
The leash tells the dog that a fun, out of control walk is coming. It's exactly like Pavlov's dog's bell. Bell=food. Leash=fun of outside.
We may need to counter condition this.
To counter condition Leash=Take handler for a drag, grab the leash, put it on your dog and go do eye contact/attention in the Kitchen for 3 minutes.
Take the leash off, and hang out.
A few 2-3 minute sessions of this per day will change what a leash means. The leash will no longer mean 'take my handler out for a drag' the leash will mean 'sit still and pay attention to my handler'.
Doing this drill will change what the leash means. We'll take it from a tool that means 'restraint' to a tool that means 'work'.
We'll talk more about classical conditioning next week.
We'll flesh stuff out in comments.