2-Minute Dog Trainer, T’s contacts

Tempest and I spent a few minutes this morning on the new contact trainer Bud made for us.

I had his breakfast in a bowl, my clicker, and a hungry, motivated 12-week-old puppy.

I sat on a short stool next to the down-ramp of the contact trainer. I blocked the other side of the ramp with a plastic storage crate.

Tempest’s first attempt to engage the ramp resulted in a rattling sound from the ramp. He acted concerned.

I tossed some food on the ramp, he re-engaged the ramp, the rattle occurred again but he was eating and was unconcerned. This was “prompted shaping,” versus “free shaping,” which involves waiting for the dog to do the behavior.

I continued to click for engagement with the ramp, increasing my criteria in tiny increments. After the initial prompted shaping I employed free shaping.

click 1 – nose on ramp

click 2 – front foot and nose on ramp

click 3 – front foot placed onto ramp

clicks 4 through 10 – front foot placed purposely on ramp

click 11 – waited for both front feet on ramp

clicks 12 through 15 – both front feet placed purposely on ramp

click 16 – waited for a rear foot to be added to the 2 front feet on the ramp

click 17 – waited for 4th foot to be added to the 3 feet on the ramp

clicks 18 through 25 – all four feet on the ramp

click 26 – tossed kibble away, Tempest chased and ate, returned to put all four feet on ramp

clicks 27 through 30 – tossing kibble away, Tempest ate and returned to put 4 feet on ramp

click 31 – with Tempest facing up the ramp, I laid his food bowl at the bottom of the down ramp, he turned and stepped off the ramp with his two front feet — CLICK !!!   Tempest ate out of his bowl. (Prompted shaping)

click 32 – Tempest climbs back up the ramp, I place his food bowl behind him on the floor (prompted shaping), he turns and steps off with his two front feet — CLICK !!!  Tempest finished his breakfast.

The whole training session took less than 8 minutes. I know I’m a 2-minute dog trainer, but I wanted to get him over his concern with the rattling noise, and didn’t want to stop while we were on such a roll.

Since Tempest is so young I’m in no hurry to get him to perform his 2-on-2-off contact performance on cue. I’ll continue shaping this but won’t name it yet.

In the meantime …

Two days ago I was teaching a competition-obedience workshop. Our topic of the day was heeling and I was working my 10-year-old aussie, Dash.

I teach my version of Dawn Jec’s “choose to heel” training. I call it my version because I’ve not trained with Dawn, I’ve only read a 14-or-15-year old article on “choose to heel.”

I’m certain that there are differences between what Dawn Jecs created and my understanding of it, so I don’t profess to be teaching Dawn’s method. But she inspired me to do this type of positive reinforcement training, and I admire the cleverness of “choose to heel,” so I attribute my method to Dawn Jecs every time.

I brought out Tempest who, at 12 weeks of age, has already been introduced to the idea of loose-leash walking — that is, we don’t move forward if I feel tension on the leash.

With a handful of string cheese bits, I started walking forward, enticing my puppy. He’d come into heel position and eat cheese. I kept walking if he fell behind, he’d catch up and eat his piece of cheese for landing in heel position.

It was all accidental on his part, but he found it so rewarding that, within a couple of minutes, he was following my movement in heel position. So fun … !!!

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