Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Motoring along with our new tricks

Hi all,

A couple days ago, I took Peepers out to the barn for his 2nd time. We ended up out there for about 1/2 hour, taping the whole time. I certainly didn't plan on a 1/2 hour session, but a few things happened while we were out there. 1.) Peepers started out interested in flying from me to each perch, but he wanted to look around each time (adding considerably to the amount of time we would be out there), then 2.) Peepers wanted to explore the bars on one side of the barn. This gave me an opportunity to use them as reinforcers, and keep the idea that he should do things on cue. These 2 factors made for a long session, and a long video :). I am proud of what he is doing out there, and the amount of effort he is giving me under some very very new circumstances. Here's the links to the videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I56lto-1x1o, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKLO_Q-zKFw, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrdILuGL5is. Towards the end of the session, you can see Peepers is getting close to the end of his rope - he is finding it more difficult to pay attention, and also it seems like he is getting more emotional (very technical, I know, but I can't think how else to put it).

Yesterday I skipped the barn (it's very very hot, and my a/c is on the fritz, so I don't want him to heat up and be unable to cool off easily), and played with the harness and retrieve with both the birds. As I was setting up, Sparky was practically jumping out of her skin to get her turn, and Peepers wasn't quite as enthusiastic as her, so I started with harness training Sparky. In this session, she chose to leave her head in the loop at get multiple treats. It was fantastic! She's not ready for the harness to touch her, but she's definitely getting more comfortable with the idea of the whole thing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPdJtCOiG88 I made sure to end the session shortly before she was ready - I am trying to make sure I don't push too long :).

After I put her back, Peepers was more than ready for his session. We worked some more on his wing lifts with a loop. He's doing very well at this, and a couple times I got 2 separate wing lifts while he wore the loop. This might have been the key to being able to move on for him - having a much more "active" behavior to do after putting his head in. Maybe he needs a little bit of a distraction like this. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next couple sessions. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drJ_99rO8So

Surprisingly enough, Sparky was still squeaking for a turn when Peepers got done, so I thought I would go ahead and work on a new skill with her - a retrieve. I haven't worked with her on this before, but she has done a little 101 things before, so she had an idea of how to go about problem solving this puzzle. She did really well, getting to the point where she picked up the die. I didn't think we'd get quite this far (shaping just isn't so much her thing, offering behaviors is kind of a slow thing for her), so I was super pleased with her progress. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afS7rrh45Ow

Peepers still wanted to work on something while Sparky was playing with me, so after she was done he got the last session of the day. I would really like for him to actively put the die in my hand, but yesterday he started messing around with me, holding the die in his foot and playing with my hand. I'll see what he does over the couple of sessions, but if this starts to become a habit, I will have to change what I am doing to make things more clear for him. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XB1oaLGFIu8 He is a bit of a clown, though, and I do really like that, so it will be a balancing act between keeping the joy and original thinking and doing the behavior I ask him to.

My plan over the next few days is to play the barn by ear. I don't plan to video it until I start working on new behaviors - Peepers clearly is fine with the perches in a new location, so there isn't much to show with that concept. What I will be doing is just establishing the idea that when we are out there, we do the same things as we do in the house. In the house, I am going to continue to quit while I am ahead, and try to see if we can make some real progress with the harness. I hope that Peepers will soon work to put the die in my hand, and that I can get Sparky picking it up and carrying it regularly. This just gets more and more fun :)

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