Marsha Houston blog – 2-minute dog trainer – Haymitch learns the chute

When teaching a new obstacle, our goal is always to start with the obstacle set for the easiest performance, reward the dog for performing, making it a little harder, rewarding the dog for performing, making it a little harder, etc.

This methodology usually requires an assistant, or instructor, to hold the dog’s leash or to adjust equipment.

Two days ago I decided to teach Haymitch to perform the collapsed tunnel. I decided to try it on my own, while Bud was down at the pond clearing the downed trees from June’s derecho event.

I set up one of our big barn fans facing the barrel end of the chute.

The chute fabric was completely extended, but the air flow from the barn fan kept the upper fabric about 12 inches off the floor.

I presented Haymitch with the chute, and he balked.

We went to a pipe tunnel, which he’s familiar with, and performed it a few times with a treat reward each time.

I set the pipe tunnel so the pipe tunnel exit faced the entrance of the chute. I thought that his performance of a familiar obstacle might encourage him to perform the unfamiliar obstacle.

I sent Haymitch into the pipe tunnel then directed him into the chute. He scooted right through and I tossed his treat a foot or two beyond the chute fabric.

I continued to present the chute entrance to Haymitch, clicking and treating as he went through the fabric.

If I clicked too early, as he entered the barrel end, he’d come back out. I had to click when he was more than half way through the fabric.

Each time I presented the obstacle I was farther from the entrance, so Haymitch ended up running 5-6 feet to get into the chute.

With the fan keeping the chute fabric open, Haymitch learned to seek out the entrance of the chute, run straight through, and find his reward on the floor 1-2 feet away from the exit.

When Haymitch was confidently going through the chute, with the fabric blown open, I changed the trajectory of the barn fan’s air flow.

This allowed the fabric to drop slightly, as less air was directed through the chute.

I went back to my original presentation position, sending him through the pipe tunnel and then into the chute.

I continued to click/treat as he was more than half way through the fabric. In our first training session, which took about 15 minutes, Haymitch was performing his conditioned sequence (teeter, tire, jump, a-frame, tunnel) followed by a distance send into the barrel end of the chute.

Our second training session began with the fan blowing the fabric open.

After 4-5 repetitions with the fabric blown open, I shifted the trajectory of the fan breeze, allowing the fabric to drop slightly.

Haymitch continued performing the chute, thought slightly slower.

I repeated the obstacle a dozen times, clicking Haymitch as he was half way through the fabric, and tossing his treat 1-2 feet from the fabric exit.

I again shifted the trajectory of the fan breeze, allowing the fabric to drop completely.

Haymitch refused the chute the first time he was faced with the fabric lying flat.

I turned the fan to push a little air through the fabric.

Haymitch went through the chute 5-6 times for his click/treat.

I again turned the fan away to allow the fabric to drop.

Haymitch went through the chute with the fabric flat on the floor!  We repeated this performance 5-6 times, with a click as he as reached the half way point of the fabric, and getting his treat about 1-2 fee from the exit of the chute.

We finished this training session with his conditioned sequence (teeter, tire, jump, a-frame, tunnel) and fired into the chute with the fabric lying on the floor!

Bud joined us partway through this sequence, so I handed him my string cheese and Haymitch immediately shifted his focus to Bud and ran the sequence for him!

We finished the training session with a few weave entries, finishing our string cheese. I’m SO impressed with this little guy!

Haymitch’s 2-minute meal time training focuses on the dogwalk contact trainer, feeding breakfast and supper for a sit on the end of the contact.

This mealtime training carries over into his sequencing work as:  1) on the teeter Haymitch climbs the ramp, rides it down, and sits on the end of the ramp,  2) on the a-frame Haymitch slows as he approaches the contact,  3) we haven’t done a lot of dogwalks, but I’m going to encourage a sit at the end of the ramp.

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2 Responses to “Marsha Houston blog – 2-minute dog trainer – Haymitch learns the chute”

  1. Erica Says:

    Bonus points for creativity!!

  2. linda Says:

    I love this blog! I have a 5-yr-old rescued chihuahua, Lola. We’ve taken an intro to agility class & she excelled at it. I want to continue with agility because Lola really enjoys it, & your blog is helping me understand effective ways to train her with new obstacles. So thanks to you & Haymitch for sharing!

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