Friday, June 26, 2009

Changing it up, and making progress

I started today's session with the parrots like yeaterday, with flying Peepers from perch to perch on cue. In that part, I tried to vary my location in relation to the perches, so that sometimes he needed to fly ahead of me, and sometimes he followed me to the perch. I am also trying to instill the idea that he should try and get to the perch ahead of me, even if I start off before him. Peepers is clearly digging this kind of start to the training session, which is fine with me. I need to add in another perch, and a pole, and some more space to really work on directing him where I want him to go. Considering his enthusiasm, I spose I had better get busy :).

I thought that Peepers and I would go straight into harness training, like we have been doing. He wasn't prepared to do that, and went back to his cage to have a drink and ring his bell for a while. So, Sparky got to go first. She did really well. I draped the harness over the target stick, and asked her to touch the stick (anywhere) for her treat. She thought about touching the harness once, and I missed my opportunity to c/t that (bad bad me :)). She also continued to work when Peepers flew to the perch nearest the table and watched. You can see in the video that she gives him a good look, then comes back for another touch of the target.

Peepers waited really patiently for his turn, but when Sparky was done, he flew right down to the table. I thought we would go ahead and work on sticking his head through the loop first, like we have always done. When I pulled it out, Peepers made it clear that he really didn't want to do that. So, since I had asked for the behavior, I got him to do it once, and then put the harness away and worked on wing lifts.

Peepers totally rocked this exercise! He got all excited again, and was kind of slow to offer each behavior, but by the end he was putting up both wings for his c/t. sweet!

I am going to change the order that we do things in, because Peepers still needs to get comfortable with sticking his head in the harness, but I also want him to enjoy his training to the fullest. So I'll play around with it and see when Peepers wants to work on that aspect, or at least won't mind as much. I also will be fiddling with sparky's training, to keep challenging her in little ways, and add other things to do to her repetoire.

Interesting day

yesterday was kind of cool. I had decided I was tired of the plateau that I had hit with both the birds, so I made a couple of little changes to see what would happen.

The first thing I did was work with Peepers on flying from perch to perch on cue. I didn't video this part, because it's been worked on and filmed a bunch already, and the room isn't set up well for taping flight stuff. Peepers had a great time with it, and was quickly flying from one to the other and back again on cue.

The the real fun started. While Peepers was munching on an almond, I set up the table for his harness training session. I was about to start the tape, and he was still on the perch, looking ready to train. So I asked him to come with me over to the table, and he flew to the other perch. Smart bird! But so wrong lol! I asked again, and he flew back the the 1st perch. It took him a few minutes to finally head to the table, where I started the tape and began his harness training.

I tried to do something a little different. I have been putting my finger under his wing to get him to lift it, then c/t when he does. I can't figure out why I am still doing this after a few successful sessions, so this time I decided to just point to his wing and wait for him to offer it. It was little slow, but Peepers picked up on it, and started to offer it. Then he got super excited, and almost all training stopped. I need to work more with him on actually working through this - it can get a little ridiculous sometimes.

Sparky then got a turn. I really want her to start touching the harness with some body part or another, and I started to ask for a little more from her to try and get that. I may have figured out some fairly reasonable way to hold everything and start to get her head closer to the loops while targeting. She did have one funny incident in this session - she touched the harness with her foot! Ack! She was very silly about it, and I think that overall it was a good experience for her. sparky ended this session on a very odd note - she was wiggling her neck around like there was a piece of almond stuck in it. She's ok, but it was really weird and kind of disturbing.

The dogs are having a fine time with "hold". Bungee is slowly learning he can hold and move, although he tends to mouth whatever he's holding while he moves. I'm not sure what that's about, but I am sure we can work through that. And Dempsey last night went from a dog who could barely pick up the dumbell and fling it at my feet, to one who picked it up and SHOVED it into my hands. All in one session. He must've gotten another brain cell to work LOL. Sophie is supplying plenty of motivation to the boys to get it right - she jumps in and shows them when they screw it up. And I'm sure she has some choice words for them when she does this. Sidney is hanging out practicing anything he wants to, and enjoying every minute of it. I need to get them back out in the agility field, but boy, it's hot.

Friday, June 19, 2009

kind of an odd day

Yesterday was an interesting day - Peepers had a little incident with the harness, and even though he was a bit surly, ended up asking for a 2nd session after Sparky was done with hers.

Peepers first session was going along ok, when he got hung up in the harness. he was pretty crabby about it, but we got the thing off, and went right back to working on putting his head through the loop. This is something I tend to do - if something goes horribly wrong, I make sure no one is hurt, and get right back to the behavior. I don't like to end on such a bad note, I think it gives everyone too much time to think about the scary thing that happened. I want to focus on positive aspects of training. I've never been unable to get the behavior again right away, but if I wasn't, I would make sure to do something positive before ending (excpet in case of serious injury of course). We also worked for a long time after that, I guess Peepers got over it pretty quickly. The video is split into 2 parts, here and here

Sparky then had her session. I thought I would add in the harness and see how she reacted to doing other things around it. She once again had a longer than usual session, but was clearly a little unsettled about the harness (and prolly the table, and Peepers, and everything else that makes her nervous)

Once I had finished with Sparky, I began the cleanup, and Peepers flew to his spot on the table that he goes to while he waits for me to get ready to train. I took this as a sign that he wanted to have another session, so I worked with him again. It was odd, because he was a little surly, and I usually wouldn't work with him at all when he's like that, but I felt he had asked for the session, so I felt like I should give it to him. And, he didn't misbehave at all for it. He just had that funny air about him.

I think that the wing lifting exercise is making Peepers uncomfortable, but he still wants to train, so I am seeing this slightly testy behavior. Plus, he did get stuck in the harness yesterday, so I would guess that would also affect his mood. I am really proud of his effort even during the more difficult parts of his training. And Sparky I think is starting to get more confident, which is really great to see.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Lots of learning, little bit of progress

Yesterday was a pretty good day for the birds, at least it was informative for me and gave me a lot to think about. I planned on doing a longer session with Peepers to work on different aspects of his harness training, so I split the training into 2 videos.

In the first video I spend most of my time working with Peepers on putting his head through the loop of the harness. I was having trouble with it, because he wasn't really interested in doing it. I was wondering why he had such a change of attitude, when it dawned on me to dump the clicker I was holding. That seemed to help him immensely, he started sticking his head through the loop immediately. Hmm, I guess he doesn't like the clicker making that noise directly in his ear :).

When I thought we should be done with that stage, I stopped and restarted the video. Then I began to work on wing lifting. I am not veru happy with the attitude I see with Peepers on this. I think using my finger to get him to lift his wing is a little too aversive for him, and I need to consider alternatives to show him what I am looking for. But, I will still need to be able to handle his wings to get the loop over them, so this is a bit of a problem.

Sparky is getting more comfortable on the table, and it may be time to teach her something new. She still doesn't want to move too much on the table, but in this session she stayed engaged in the training for quite a bit longer than usual.

IMO these videos are getting more instructional as far as watching the birds, and getting attitude for each step. The 2 of them are very very different, and my training has had to adjust a lot for each bird.

The dogs are starting to cruise through their new behaviors. Bungee is learning to hold onto his dumbell and move (that's hard!), and also to hold onto anything I ask him to (that's easy!). Sophie's just showing everyone up, and holding onto whatever like a little pro. Dempsey is learning to keep his mouth over the dumbell for more than a millisecond for his goodies, which he finds very difficult. And Sidney has it going on - he just hangs out and gets cheese :).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Steady and slow

Today we worked on wing lifting and a little bit of sticking his head through the harness. Peepers got super excited during this session, and I changed my plan slighty as the session went on.

Today Sparky was a little uncomfortable, but settled down when I brought her essnetially into a corner where she couldn't see Peepers. I think this session is interesting to watch her slowly relax a little and then just be done.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Today I decided to start working on asking Peepers to lift his wings when I ask for the next step of harness training. I decided to do this first, and hopefully do some other stuff after we were done with this part. I thought this might be difficult for Peepers, since he doesn't like to be manipulated, and I wanted to be able to end on something else more fun for him. I also decided to keep the harness out of the picture for now, so that the presence of the harness wouldn't signal the wing-lifting exercise, just in case wing lifting didn't go as planned.

After we took a short break from session 3 (Sparky had a short session in between), I decided to try and work on the harness directly with Peepers again. I suspect that he just needed to think on the wing thing from session 3, and wasn't prepared to do another session so soon.

Sparky had an ok session, it was short, but she went right into training, and I think she quit when she slid on the table a little bit. I wonder if this is the problem for her, that the table is too slick for her comfort. If it is, I am not sure that I want to fix it for her - I think it would be good for her to get used to a new and different surface.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Wow! Wow! Wow!

What a day for Peepers! 2nd day of harness training, and he just seems to think this is easy as pie. I added in putting his head through the smaller loop, and he didn't mind in the least. He even decided to let it stay on while he munched on his almonds. It's just crazy how bold he gets as every new experience turns out well, and he finds that he can choose whether to go on or not. I now need to teach him to raise each wing so I can slip the big part of the harness over them. This should get interesting, as we have no background behaviors to deal with this, so I am basically starting from scratch.

Sparky had a rougher time. She's getting better on the table, and did some targeting, then Peepers flew in and just about landed on her. It didn't seem to ruin her entire day, but I don't think she wanted to train much more. Of course, this happened towards the end of her max 3 minute session, so it could have been a combination of the incident and her natural tendency anyway. But, certainly progress is progress, and I look forward to building on what I've got.

Bungee's hold is coming along really nicely. He now grabs the dumbell and typically tries to hold onto it, although sometimes he mouths it a little bit before he just holds it. But spitting it at me has almost disappeared. I ended up using Sophie to help fix this - when Bungee spit the dumbell at me, Sophie got a turn at holding it. He was horrified :).

Dempsey has learned to shake with either paw on cue. He's a little enthusiastic and therefore sloppy about it. He sure did pick up on it fast though, so I am sure he will be able to clean this up fairly quickly.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Boy, it's been a while

Hi all,

It's been a while since I posted, and a lot has happened. I have moved from AZ to TX, and am currently hunting for a job. While I look, I have had some training time between unpacking and wasting time online :).

The dogs have adjusted really well to the move. Sophie spends an inordinate amount of time rolling in the grass. Just the other day, I took her with me while I walked to the post office. It took a long time, because every 3 or 4 steps, Sophie would just stop, drop, and roll. All that seems to be required for her is grass, and we're surrounded by it now. I am so glad to see her happy. Sidney has just gone with the flow, as he always does.

Bungee has enjoyed the extra space, and immediately got himself an agent for his still nonexistant modeling career. Hopefully, Dallas will give him his big break. In the meantime, he's learning to hold anything I ask him to. This is very hard for him, as he really wants to DO more, but he's slowly getting it.

Dempsey has gotten back into his weave training. We haven't lost much in the 2 months he's been off, so I am hoping to get this behavior fairly solid by the end of summer. I also need to figure out how to set up the video camera for this - the field in much bigger than my backyard, with no natural places to set the camera. I'll be looking for this, so I can show Dempsey's progress.

Peepers and Sparky were totally easy for the move. We spent 2 nights in hotel rooms while we drove, and both nights they were relaxed as can be, clearly confident in their new surroundings.

2 days ago I started up with training them again. All I planned to do was review what they knew, just to see how the behaviors held up under new circumstances. Peeper's video is here: He was a total rockstar, and just blew through everything except a recall off his sisal perch.

Sparky had a rougher time. She didn't want to stay on the table. Her video is here: I shouldn't have pushed her quite this hard, I have just had a hard time adjusting to her change in attitude and personality since she barbered her wings. It's been a long time, yet still I try to treat her like the confident little bird she was. I changed my expectations for her on her 2nd session on the table, but I also am really waiting for her to molt the damaged feathers out, and having her real personality come out again.

Yesterday the birds both had sessions also. I've decided to work with Peepers on wearing a harness, so yesterday we started with a couple of easy known behaviors, then moved on to the harness. Sparky just needed to work on being comfortable on the table, so what I got of that session is here:

I'm really hoping to get back on track training the animals, and hopefully get a job that will give me a schedule that allows that.