Monday, March 17, 2008

Control Unleashed Seminar, Day 2

Sunday Leslie started all the working dogs and handlers working on active attention - playing eye contact games. She then walked everyone through what she calls the four steps of the mat:
  1. Mechanics - Finding it, lying on it, staying on it (mat work is distance work) - she taught this just like we just taught it to the Clicker Basics class. Basically, use the mat as a target. Dog goes to the mat, treats happen on the mat. Slowly, and steadily raise criteria both duration and distance. Distraction comes later! ; 0
  2. Building a message - once you are on the mat - nothing else matters (open bar/closed bar) - When working on this, the handler MUST be in control of the environment - something comes up while the dog is on the mat - Open bar!! No behavior needs to be offered, no clicking is necessary. All that should matter in the dog's head is that something happened and now you're getting fed! Yay! Environmental change goes away, no more food.
  3. The environmental cue precedes the eating.
  4. Look at That - Start with a neutral object - a stuffed animal, a book, etc. Neutral! Take it out from behind your back - Look at that! Dog looks, you click for looking and reward. Again you slowly build up to more exciting objects and move into new environments. This is NOT a shaping exercise - it is a capturing exercise. You are capturing the moment your dog looks at something super exciting and essentially saying, "Yes, good look. Now I'm going to feed you!" Leslie referred to it as a "compromise leave it." You can look, but you can't touch.

All of the exercises I mentioned yesterday are in Leslie's book Control Unleashed. It is a really good resource. I have to admit that I am very happy I attended the seminar. The seminar really compliments the book well (as it should!). Having the opportunity to watch the ten working dogs begin to get "it" was really helpful.

One definite plan I would like to work on with Ike is playing the recall-release game with Nancy (Remy's mum). Nancy and Remy are in the class that follows Ike's and Nancy is often there when our class is finishing up. Ike used to do the mad terrier alert barking at Nancy, but he has been much better the past six months or so. Now Ike will go and sniff Nancy when he thinks she is not looking.

The fact that Ike is willing to go sniff Nancy is exciting. I tend to be a bad mum and get so excited that he is sniffing and being brave that I call attention to it. Then the "social pressure" ratchets up, and Ike says - BARK! Why are you looking at me/talking to me? Eeek!

I think I should "send" Ike to sniff Nancy and then recall him/treat him, and then send him to sniff her again if he is interested. I'll have to send Nancy an e-mail and see if she'd be willing.

I plan on incorporating most of what I learned this weekend in Carmen's and Ike's training. I think it will be most effective for Carmen; Ike has already learned many of these games with different names.

After last week where Ike was so overwhelmed, I think I will bring his crate into the barn from now on. At trials he will ask to go in his crate and take a nap. I also plan on leaving Ike in the car while setting up equipment so his poor little brain isn't completely over cooked.

I highly recommend Control Unleashed and if you have an opportunity to attend a seminar with Leslie McDevitt I highly recommend that too! She has a good grasp on over-stimulated dogs.


Katrin said...

You poor chewed up crate that a bad bad bad little corgi ate? That his terrible mum has yet to replace? That crate?

Jules and Ikey P said...

hee, hee....yup that crate! :-P

manymuddypaws said...

a bad bad corgi ate a crate? I would never have believed that!!!

Lael & Neil said...

A corgi ate a crate! Today I had a vizsla find a jelly doughnut in a bag! The only evidence remaining was a drop of the jelly on the console between the seats. I have never seen either steel food! If I had to point a finger, Makin would be to blame!

Katrin said...

Tessa says- I point at my sister, Makin, but I really learned it from Monty, hehehe.