As we briefly touched upon earlier, Bonnie’s adolescence has seen her regress very slightly, which is perfectly normal. As part of her ongoing training, we are helping her remember how to settle in challenging circumstances.
Like many young animals, Bonnie finds it difficult to settle when there are bouts of increased activity in the house, for example when dinner is being prepared, eaten or when guests are present; all things that generally increase in duration and intensity over the coming weeks.
What you see here is Julie and Margaret marking and reinforcing better behaviour from Bonnie in the kitchen. SMART 50 has been at work all week, this is a slightly more formal training session for the family, working on the same mark and reinforce protocol, but deliberately in the environment where Bonnie traditionally needs more help.
As with SMART 50, we will work on verbal markers in session too, moving away from the clicker which has been implemented here for precision, because it’s useful in teaching Margaret and Julie what to look for and it keeps their mechanics clean. Clean mechanics is where we concentrate very carefully on our part of the conversation. Observe, mark (click) as the behaviour happens, move for the reinforcer (in this case the treat), and then deliver it in a way which is easy for the dog to receive. At 0.17s in the video, you see Julie pick up a treat before the click. This is ok at this stage as she is just getting a treat ready in her hand for the next click. However, this may add a little confusion to Bonnie as very often dogs see us reaching for the treat as the marker rather than listening for the click. This can easily be remedied by having several treat pots dotted around the kitchen so we can easily reach for the nearest one and deliver the reinforcer. Julie and Margaret are learning this stuff as they go too!
Bonnie is already managing longer periods of settled, quiet behaviour, as you can see.
Remember as you watch, that this little girl previously exhibited very excited behaviour including demand barking, jumping up, tugging and humping.
Our goals next week will change as their skill levels and experience develop – we’ll ask Bonnie to offer more settled behaviour, for longer, shaping it as we go.
This is wonderful progress from all of them, and they’re right – I am very proud of them all.
There’s so much you can do thoughtfully which pays off in all kinds of ways. We don’t only get “the dog we want” we get so much more.
Happy training guys!
Please contact us via http://www.glasgowdogtrainer.co.uk if you think your dog could beneft from training. We offer Skype and phone consultations if you are outwith our geographical area.