Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Fin Training

I realized that I haven't given an agility training update in a while. Sure I've talked about the perfect wife I am, I took some fab pictures of flowers, and did a little soul searching. But that's all procrastination for what this blog is really about.


So today we talk about the teeter. Teaching the teeter must be broken up into basic steps. For Fin, she has trouble with the sound the teeter makes when it hits the ground AND she wants to do everything fast. If she is on a wobble board, she makes it bang but jumps off of it fast. She is a little fearful of what might happen when she stays on. So for Fin, I'm starting the teeter with a game I like to call "The Bang Game.'

Stuff you need:

Cheese: This is an important element. It really doesn't need to be cheese, but if you use cheese it must be "Precious" cheese. I've also used chicken, hotdogs, kibble...whatever rocks your dogs boat (or yours if you get hungry during the training session).

Teeter: I like to start with the teeter at the lowest setting, AND I prop up the end of the teeter so that it is only about 6-8" off the ground (this can be adjusted for the size of dog you have).

A dog: hopefully a dog that has already been clicker trained so they catch on with what you want quickly.
Optional Style points for creative clothing:

In setting up for this game, it is important to know where to place your reinforcement. Food placement is critical to proper training. Puppy should get fed with head down on the teeter so I actually place the food on the teeter and don't feed from my hand. The first couple of times you can actually "bait" the teeter with the food but then wait for the behavior before placing the reward on the teeter (otherwise you get into lure). I also will often ask for a friend to help. They can place the food faster than I. Placement of the reward both for the behavior AND the release is critical. Once you are getting the jumping up on the teeter behavior, you will only feed for "four feet on looking down and forward." Anything else gets a good dog and try again.
I start with a clicker and I click for close approximation to what my end goal is (dog with four feet on the teeter facing the end getting cookie from tip) - I'm not training a 2o2off teeter, I eventually will teach a run to the end as fast as you can, wait for me to say K, then run faster.
Once Fin had the general idea, I placed a bit of cheese at the end, held her by the collar, said my "ready steady" and wolaaaa! she jumped into position and got her cheese. The first time, I actually held the teeter so it was only 2 inches off the ground. I gradually raised to to 8" once she figured out what to do. The teeter went from 2" to 8"in a 60 second training session.

notice all four feet, she is looking down not at me.

I end with my release word and if she moves toss a cookie (or her toy) out in front. Look how she is focused down and ahead. It is the curse of death if your dog stares at you. You want for a focused forward looking dog, a dog looking to see what is next on the course, not a dog that is looking at you to see what you have.
Finny is gonna do the bang game every other day (or 3-4 times a week for one or two sessions each - not alot), During this time I'll gradually increase the height of the teeter so she has to leap up in the air to get on. When I finish, I hope she isn't afraid of the bang anymore.
Then I'll stop the bang game and start her running as fast as she can to the end and stopping (on a teeter that doesn't move. Then gradually increase movement until she is running as fast as she can, stopping till I say "K", then running fast again.

1 comment:

Trish said...

I've got cheese and old slippers!!!

But my dog takes the cheese and then a nap.... not sure it will work