Sunday, May 10, 2009

Go Lay Down

See the video here:

It's been a while since I've done a training video. This weekend, I decided to introduce "Go Lay Down" to B the way we've been doing it in Canine Building Blocks.

The steps are:
1. Lay down a mat
2. As soon as, and every time, your dog pays any kind of attention to that mat, C/T
3. Begin shaping the type of "lay down" you want

(You'll have to ignore the fact that I'm in my And S also wanted some screen time, so she decided to jump in there at one point.)

B loves to see how much, or how little, she can get away with. In fact, I think this is one of the things that shows dogs have a sense of humor. I see it as a form of sarcasm, which I just adore. Instead of putting all of her body on the towel, she will try to get away with her butt hanging off. So you'll see that I withold some clicks because of that. B also LOVES chasing the treat. It's just something I've learned. I've noticed she comes back much faster if there's a little chase involved. I have no behavioral science degree and some trainers might argue that this isn't following correct procedure, but B is a wild child and if I can let her get away with that while at the same time producing excellent results, well, I'm going to.

Looking at the video with a trainer's eye, I notice that I do at least one thing that should be nipped in the bud. Can you spot it? I sometimes cue her with my hands! I wave my hand or point towards the mat - and not even on a consistent basis! Perhaps by watching the video, you can see how unnecessary that is. B already knows what she's doing...she's been doing it fairly consistently. So it's the dumb human in me that feels I have to point. It's a wicked habit but even something so small can slow the process. If B gets the idea that she needs to wait for my hand cue, then I could have a dog who's Lay Down digresses! It's obvious she's better off without my hand cue!

Also worth noting is that I choose to move around to change things up. The first time I move positions, this throws her for a loop. She tries to lay down in front of me, not on the mat. These kinds of behaviors are expected - just don't reinforce them and be patient! Watch how she figures out, without me saying anything, that lying down in front of me wasn't the point of the exercise. It's that mat I'm interested in!

Remember, give your dog credit. They're MUCH smarter than you think they are. Let them exercise their brains. Just as you would instruct a school age child to "Sound it out...." when reading, wait out a dog that is showing signs of understanding what you are asking of them.

Oh yeah, don't knock me for the intro. So, I asked her to sit and she laid down. Yes, I should have waited for the appropriate response. But, as I'm sure you can tell, what I meant by "sit" was "stop grabbing the damn towel and let me throw it down already!!!" Therefore, her laying down was an acceptable response. ;)

Happy Training!

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