Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Little bit of training with Peepers and some thoughts

Hi all,

This morning I got up almost reasonably early and took Peepers out to the barn before it got too hot. Since I had gotten up a little later than I wanted to, and it was already getting warm, I went out in my pj's and without combing my hair. Hence, there is no video. Vain, I know, but there are limits here :).

Peepers was pretty excited about going out there, and this time I didn't take Sparky. It was going to be just him and me, then Sidney the lab pushed his way out the gate, so he went into the barn with us. We started how we had ended the last session, with the pole in the same spot in relation to the perches. I worked on moving the perches so that the three things would be in a straight line, and Peepers would have to fly in a half circle to go from perch to perch. There was a time in this session where Peepers started to have trouble. He was going from the shorter perch to the taller one, flying on my right side. He was supposed to fly on the right side of the pole, but he instead flew on the left side of the pole and on my right (for those who are having trouble picturing this, that put him between me and the pole). We worked on this for what was probably 3-4 reps, then suddenly it clicked for him, and Peepers started flying from perch to perch on the correct side. He could hardly wait to take his next turn. I'd give him his pine nut, and he'd turn right around and almost immediately fly again. I had a hard time keeping up with him, making sure I cued the next flight before he took off. All in all, it was a really good session, and I kind of regret not taping it.

As I think about how to go about training Peepers in these skills, I try to draw off of the experiences I have had teaching the dogs similar skills for agility. If I wanted to teach the dogs to go out around a pole, it would be a simple matter of having a pole and slowly moving away from it while asking for the dog to go around it. With Peepers, it is different. I have to set up the perches, which limits some of the choices Peepers makes, and also changes the exercise in some ways. I think that the perches almost distract from the behavior I am trying to teach, a "go around". There also could potentially be a difference in how Peepers thinks about his movement in relation to me. I think that these 2 things may be affecting how quickly Peepers is learning this skill. I am really not sure how to change the exercise, so my plan right now is to keep going as I am (at least one of us has done it this way before), and think about how I might make things easier for Peepers.

As far as Dempsey goes, I have placed a jump in front of a stair for him to jump onto and off, trying to replicate a swimmer's turn on a box until I can get a shell built for him. I am not sure that this is close enough, so I am trying to get the shell built sooner rather than later to be sure we are practicing exactly what we want to. He's doing very well on the stair, and I am looking forward to seeing how he does this weekend at practice.

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