Thursday, August 13, 2015

Ein's Retrieve Training

Since the rally-o trial, Ein and I have been hard at work on his retrieve!  We have been practicing every night.  We left off the last time with some open mouth action on the bar of the dumbbell, but no teeth on.  Throughout this week we stalled out pretty badly and I was feeling at a bit of a loss as to how to get Ein to understand I wanted him to bite the bar.

I enjoy my three very different dogs, and a lot of that is because of how differently they think.  I learn so much!  Perri was so difficult and tentative and ...excruciating with retrieve training, but she was very precise with everything she offered, and so thoughtful and good at offering different behaviors when we are shaping if other behaviors aren't "paying".  Molly is like a bull in a china shop, but there was little to no shaping process for the bite.  Molly grabbed onto that dumbbell in our first session with no hesitation.  (A calm hold is her challenge.)   Ein on the other hand is again different!   Ein really excited, he is happy and he wants to do good and get his treat and make me just as happy as he is.  He is mouthing the bar, tonguing it, nibbling it or just "nomming" it and then panting at me with joy.  Is that what you wanted?  It's too much!  And no bites in there to even try to mark.  And he is happy to offer the same exact mouthing behaviors again and again, though they do not pay off!, and then pace around in frustration and nose touch my arm.  It is how he brainstorms!

I love his enthusiasm!  I tried to use his treasured nylabones to help him generalize what I want (teeth!).   He looks at me like, "No!  I don't want to enjoy my bone right now, I would like to earn treats.   You're so silly, but it's okay."

Furthermore, Ein has always been very afraid of the clicker.  The first time I ever clicked around Ein he hid behind the toilet for hours!  I have to use a verbal marker for Ein and this is much harder for me.  I am not consistent in the noise I make, and my timing is not nearly as precise as it is for the clicker.  Every now and then I try the clicker with Ein and his reaction is almost always the same: cringing and avoidance.   Last night I gave it another try with our softest clicker and to my delight, Ein did not react negatively to the clicker!  All those times watching me work with Perri and Molly must have finally desensitized him to that terrifying click.

So with the clicker I was able to be a little more precise.  If the bar would even clack on his teeth as he opened his mouth over it I marked that.  He quickly started nibbling the end and that has progressed to some nice bites with the back teeth.  It felt like a major victory!   We were stalled out at this point months ago when I was teaching him his retrieve just for fun, but now I am absolutely determined to get this trained.   And Ein just loves it!  

A little clip of us working together tonight.  I love to video my training sessions.  I see here that I am pushing the DB into Ein's space more than I would like.  I am still struggling with my click timing, but I am getting used to how fast Ein is.  He's not sure what to do so he just does a bunch of stuff.   It's hard for me to get used to his style and split out what I want, but he is offering more bites so I know we are getting there.  I also don't like how high I give him his treats, no reason for him to have to reach up that high for them.

I love this.  I feel like me and my boy are pointed towards another fun little journey together!

1 comment:

  1. Yay for retrieve training! I hope you're continuing to make progress, it does look like he's getting it in that video!