Monday, February 1, 2010

progress and not

To begin with the not:
We gave up on the 101 things. It seemed to make Kumi very nervous to have me watching her with a reward ready but not giving any commands. Even when I studiously ignored her, she could sense that I was waiting for something, and tended to go into a down stay, watch me intently, and act generally unhappy.

So. That idea went into the bin.

On the other side, we've had pretty decent success with some new tricks. M taught her to roll over (or at least show her belly), and stand in one evening each.

I tried a different technique with teaching her to get the ball. She sometimes plays with it when you toss it, and I spent a while rewarding her when she picks it up. She definetly works better when you give a cue, or lure something. Her default behavior is stillness, which makes it hard to capture things.

Anyway, the reinforcement had two effects - first, she will now almost always go after the ball, and pick it up in her mouth as soon as she catches it when you toss it (previously she would often just push it with her nose or bat it around with her paws like a cat). This is what I was trying to train. Secondly, she drops the ball immediately upon 'yes' - which is not quite what I was going for.

I think from here, I'd like to try to train a retrieve, and possibly a catch - I think the catching is more an issue of her practicing coordination than one of motivation. She will sometimes catch it, but often seems to try, but physically 'miss', so I don't want to discourage her efforts, but I also don't want to train 'pretend to try to catch it'.

In even better news, despite very limited practice due to inclement weather, she's getting much better on the leash. I don't mean she has a perfect heel, or even that she is paying attention to me all the time, but she's stopped pulling so much, and will come back to me and touch upon request about half the time. It still takes her a while most times, and she often smacks my hand with her nose very quickly, and with a disapproving grunt, but she is doing it, which to me is huge. She is at least acknowledging that there is someone on the other end of the leash, and that paying attention to me might help further her interests. This is a big, big change. Now that she knows I'm here, it feels like the rest will be easy (well, at least possible - which before I had doubted). I am looking forward to good weather!