First Clicks with Rylee and Red

First clicks with Rylee and Red.  Eventually, we want a click to activate the dopamine sensors of the brain (like crack).  It all starts with clicking and treating for no reason whatsoever at first.  Instead of feeding a big bowl of food to your pet, you toss a small handful each time you click.  In short order, you will see your pup make the connection between the click and the treat and then it is game on!

In addition to teaching click means treat (every time) I also want to teach that I, as the person who is reinforcing each click, am a VIP (very interesting person.   Hand feeding in the manner suggested causes your pup to pay attention to you.  Even if you have behaviors on cue with your pup, your pup must pay attention to you in order to hear the cue.  Hand feeding assures that attention is always paid to "the master."  And what a pleasant way to achieve such importance!



Foundational Skill - Target Stick

Fundamental skills like the Target Stick and Target Mat are the critical first step.  Without solid foundational learning skills, how are we going to teach the pups anything?  Of course, the first few behaviors are a little tough because initially, your pups won't realize that you are in a classroom and that offering certain, specific behavior will earn a click (and subsequent treat).
The trick here is to forge ahead.  Working in a restricted space helps, as you can see, and extreme patience is in order.  That's really the entire lesson of this video.  At this stage of the game, the pups don't know what the game is.  Be constantly raising and lowering the criteria (if they won't touch the stick, then a glance towards the stick at first can earn a click).  Lot's of clicks, lots of treats, lots of patience.

Once this learning train gets moving, you will see it is an amazing platform for Animal Training which is to say, putting behavior on cue...our eventual goal.  That means an animal who reliably performs a specific behavior when cued to do so.  For now, it all starts with a few foundational skills, so press on!


Counter Terrorism - No more counter surfing please from Thomas Waters on Vimeo.


“Counter Terrorism” - No more counter surfing please

Counter Surfing can be a maddening problem (especially around the holidays) to which many home baked pies have surely been lost. Rylee enjoys the occasional lucky find when she goes looking in all the wrong places. In point of fact, she has been reinforced many times for her efforts and fixing this.



Rylee Works the Platform - Indroduction

Here you see Rylee's very first introduction to the platform which is met with considerable reticence.  This is a new behavior for Rylee so lots of reinforcement is in order as well as copious quantities of patience. 

You do not want to accelerate the process by pushing, pulling, lifting, or touching your pup.  Instead, patiently lure your dog onto the platform.  You can accelerate learning new behaviors with higher value which I will occasionally break out.  But in these videos, it is just about breakfast kibble and nothing more.  Just the same, you can see the remarkable improvement when the platform is worked just one day later. 

What a good girl!



Life Saving Recall

This is a no brainer.  The idea is to train a phrase which is so compelling (so consistently and well reinforced) that is effective even in challenging, distracted situations.  Do not use the recall phrase to then take the pup to the vet (or any negative thing)  ONLY goodness is associated with the recall phrase.  Treats, Pets, etc. 

This is a mighty enjoyable way for any pup to spend one meal time per week and doing so will keep this behavior sharp!

While this is not rocket science, it is extremely essential work.  I have many times saved a dogs life by having a previously trained, dopamine infused, compelling and immediate recall.  You will too! 



Reinforcement Box and Recall

Here is an uncut 4 minute breakfast meeting with Rylee.  She is engaged, having fun, feeling competent, capable, attended to, and, more importantly, highly reinforced (with nothing but breakfast, no less).

While the fires rage on in Northern, CA, let's cover another safety topic.  Safety and comfort are two of the key reasons to positively train insanely reliable behavior around the crate.  Notice there is no confinement to the crate, only positive reinforcement being automatically administered by the magic of Pet Tutor technology, in this case, 50 seconds at a time.

You can see the Rylee is already becoming comfortable and happy in her reinforced facility which is all her own and cozy as any pup-cave.  While I would engage in this behavior around the crate often, I would not use the crate to restrain Rylee (unless or until a real emergency came along).

The Pet Tutor starts out with a drop every 5 seconds times 10 iterations equally 50 seconds of fun.  I will work up to every 45 seconds times 60 iterations equaling 45 minutes of fun.  I will close the door behind her each time however I will set my timer to return as soon as the fun stops to open up the facility for easy exit.   Again, ultra positive and no negative is mandated here.

Once I have Rylee happily awaiting her drop every 45 seconds (times 60), I will have a rock solid means of "putting her up" for up to 45 minutes at a time (for approximately a 1/3 of a meal's worth of kibble) to consult with the landscaper of talk to a visitor for a bit.  The value is endless and it is entirely positive for Rylee each and every time she is permitted to go to her box!



Kong Toys - Essential Solution

The Kong toy is an essential solution to a myriad of problems which might appear if it weren't for the trained preference of the Kong toy over any other potential chew toy (like your shoes or your socks).  No dog loves the Kong toy out of the gate...It's your job to cultivate and reinforce the preference in an error free environment (as in the Kong toy is the only available toy in a small space).  You want to continue with this behavior and its reinforcement for the rest of your pups life.

Also, we check in with Zoe for a few behaviors.  She is an old gal so we modify her behaviors to accomodate her abilities.  You can see she still enjoys earning her keep as much as anybody and I would never take that away from her.  She likes to bark for no reason and quite often.  This is what we are doing about it and it is coming along nicely.  Notice, there are 7 other dogs looking on at any given time and they are quiet as a mouse.  Awsome!


Breakfast with Rylee over many activities

Here is three minutes of uncut Breakfast fun featuring many newly acquired behaviors.  You can see that Rylee is attentive, responsive, alert, and having a very good time.  This doesn't take very long each day and turns the business of breakfast and dinner from mundane into fabulous and fun learning time.
The behavior of 'In the Hand' is what I teach before I play any kind of fetch games.  Eventually, the reward for 'In the Hand' will be the tossing of the ball, but before that can happen a solid 'In the Hand' cue needs to be taught and proofed.  The video depicts an excellent 'In the Hand' behavior but I didn't want to sugar coat the actual amount of work and patience that went into training that one specific behavior.  That is why I am publishing two videos today:  1) This Breakfast Meeting and 2) Behind the scenes on the 'In the Hand' behavior.  (which is the next video)



'In the Hand' from its humble beginnings

Here is the "behind the scenes" of the "In the Hand" cue.  It deserves its own video because this behavior will form the basis of many other behaviors.  Obviously, the game of fetch will be enhanced by a solid "In the Hand" cue but this behavior will also form the foundation for other behaviors like "Find the Remote" and other potential service behaviors.



From 'In the Hand' to 'Fetch'

"In the Hand" starts to really take shape in the context of fetching the ball.



Various Grooming Behaviors

You can make grooming behaviors (and vet handling) pleasant and stress free for your furry friend.  Along those lines, you can see how we acclimated to the Dremel tool for nail trimming.  This is a very good tool to keep nails in order and if you take your time getting used to it, it is actually enjoyable for the pups (which is a lot better than you can say about the groomer or vet's treatment of the matter I am quite sure).
I noticed a few areas which were matted on Rylee and Zoe so I decided to fix that issue as well.  I didn't want to scare them with scissors and cutting and I wanted to ensure the process was entirely pleasant from the pups' point of view.  Here, you see how I worked up to it and they just love getting the opportunity to earn rewards for still, cooperative behavior around the scissors.

For good measure, we also check in on the latest "In the Hand" behavior which is related to the remote control.  This will eventually be worked into a search and retrieve mission for the tv remote (on cue).

Finally, we end on some fine grooming behavior from Zoe who simply refuses to be outdone!




Developing Perfect Kitchen Behavior

Now that you have a clicker savvy dog, how do you leverage that into perfect kitchen behavior in a positive, stress-free manner that is actually enjoyable for you and your pups?  Of course, you have a breakfast meeting...

Here I do a number of kitchen-related tasks (over an uncut, 13 minute span featuring the eating of an entire breakfast for both Zoe and Rylee) where I give Rylee a behavior assignment which she understands to be an opportunity to earn rewards (i.e., breakfast kibble).  She has every opportunity to go anywhere she wishes and is only on her mat because it is the exact, most desirable spot in the room, at that moment, where she would rather be.  Of course, I am making it a very rewarding experience to the exclusion of all other places in the room, but that doesn't mean it's not entirely Rylee's choice.

Please note how Rylee breaks from her down 6 times over 13 minutes.  After each break, she is "reset" to her previously (unreleased) position and NOT clicked or treated for going back into position.  She will learn (by tomorrow, I am guessing) that breaking is never rewarding, and maintaining a behavior until released is always a good thing.  We absolute need the breaks from behavior here...they are, indeed, what teaches that the breaks from behavior are not good.  After that puzzle gets figured out...THERE WILL BE NO MORE BREAKS FROM BEHAVIOR!  How about that?

I should also like to point out that this video featuring the teaching of appropriate kitchen behavior also serves as counter surfing abatement since by cueing and getting appropriate trained kitchen behavior, we are obviously not getting inappropriate kitchen behavior (like counter surfing).  Teaching alternative behavior which is not consistent with the behavior you wish to avoid is a common strategy which we will use time and time again to train away from behaviors which we deem undesirable.

Zoe has a barking issue which she is working on.  Her behavior in this regard for the past couple three days has been outstanding and so she is rewarded often for her calm quiet behavior throughout this video.  We are quite proud of her willingness to maintain quiet.

My apologies for the length of this uncut video but it was necessary to make a number of points.



More on Counter Surfing Abatement

Along with training proper behavior in the kitchen space which is not consistent with counter surfing, there is the intentional, counter surfing abatement work which you see depicted here.  It won't be long before you can't fool Rylee into counter surfing!


The End

Rylee & Zoe

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