The criterion planing in training
I have just given lecture on the basics in clicker training. I noticed that one the hardest things where building up the criteria in training. Every task should built up from a little pieces and make it as whole with back chaining. This is a hard thing for everyone that uses shaping as a training tool. Each part of the task should be built as well as you want it to be when it’s ready to a cue to it. People have usually a hurry to make all together and forget the little parts that can make difference in the end performance.
So how to break down for example an obedience task of a box to little pieces? First you must have a vision how it should look like. If you haven’t seen a box task done in whole, it could be good idea to go to an ob competition to watch high level dogs doing it. This vision helps you to build your own version of it. Of course you must read the rules how this task is scored. Let’s start the process of back chaining.
1. dog must have good recall and this must done while you are moving
a. start with recalls so that the dog is sideways to you and you are standing
b. then do same from a slow walk
c. increase the distance and do from different angles
d. start rewarding only fast runs to your side
2. The place in the box
a. Teach to dog a right place in the box with touch pad or shaping or etc.
b. Do sending to the right place from different angles of the boc
i. Reward only tries that the dog takes right position from the first try
c. Start to make distance
d. Make the position changes from sending
3. Marked circle
a. teach the dog run to a target -> give cue for running straight
b. do stop first away from running to make sure to cue works
c. introduce the stop to going straight
d. change between running to a target and stopping on the way so that the dog doesn’t start to anticipate the stop
i. if the dog slows dog when it’s running to target just ignore try
ii. remember to change distances to the target
All these parts can be started at the same time. When they are as good as you want them to be you can start to put them together. Remember when you start put these part together the dog performance might deteriorate but it will soon come together when it has had few repeats. All these parts should still trained separately to keep the performance at its best and breaking the parts in the even smaller places you can sharpen the performance to its perfection.
Whatever you start to train remember that you can improve only one criterion at the time. If you want to improve speed in coming to your side you must lower your standards in position. Animals can’t understand multiple criterions at the same time so must have good training plan which part of task are planning to improve.
So have vision of perfect performance. Break it to parts. Keep it simple – only one criterion at the time. Put it all together and enjoy the beauty of you and dogs hard work! Training as itself needs lot of planning to get the best results but to see how the dog has it light bulb moments and learn what is wanted of him is worth all the work. Remember to have a lot of fun while you train. Learning is never ending story for you and your dog.
Balance on obstacle focus - Haven't gone as planned
I just noticed today that I have taught Freya to love more contacts than tunnels. Usually dog are tunnel crazies but our rc training has made love more contact obstacles than tunnels. It was so funny today when she tried to climb the A-frame even though she needed go around me to get there. I was trying to make her go to a tunnel under the A-frame. Just a little stop to her work and some shaping work in place. It took a few times before she started offer the tunnel. This tunnel was short and dark colored. Freya ran few times under the A-frame but not into the tunnel.
Second tunnel challenge was a away turn from me to a tunnel. Freya came to the tunnel on sideway line so she needed to do a 180 degree turn into the tunnel. There was a jump near the tunnel entry which had a jump near it. She jumped it with different ways for few times before she “saw” the tunnel. This was also exercise that showed that Freya had done too less tunnel work to really have good drive seek them. So we need to more work in that area. I have been lucky enough to trained two dogs that haven’t have any obstacle preference. This time I have done a contact crazy dog.
That's all for now!