Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Kipling and the Teeter.

I'm functioning on all of three hours (2 hours and one hour) of sleep last night, so I left work a bit early this afternoon to let the dogs out, thaw their dinner (cause I forgot to pull food out for them this AM) and get a session in with Kipling before dinner and a potential play-group. Kipling had a super session on Sunday on the plank so I decided to take the teeter out of storage (damn, I forget how heavy that thing is to lug around) and introduce him to the bang game on the lowest teeter setting (link). I suspected that he'd run the board pretty quickly so I was ready at the pivot point to ease the board down for him with one hand while cookie'ing.

Teller and Murphy both learned the teeter by playing the bang game (here's a good example of a dog playing the bang game) - Murphy never had a fast teeter, but he always knew where the pivot point was and got there, trotted off the end. Teller started with a fast teeter when he first learned it (at 12 months or so) but at 15 months he managed to flip a very light teeter (8" board) and the board actually fell on him. SUPER SCARY (for me and for Teller)! Teller worked through it - but anyone who's read our blog for a while knows that the teeter (seesaw) is not Teller's favorite obstacle. I've worked hard to make the teeter self-reinforcing with Teller and I want to do the same thing (but earlier) with Kipling.

Yes, I've said that Kipling's job right now is to be a puppy and my plan is (and still is) to let him be that puppy. He doesn't need to work for a living yet. BUT, there are plenty of foundation/play games that we can be working on now that we'll build on in the future when he's ready to play agility for real. Near the top of those foundation skills (for Kipling) is that 2o2o behavior. I've paid heavily and generously when he offers 2o2o on objects, I've shaped 2o2o on any number of props. We started on the end of a board about two weeks ago, he got to run the full board on Sunday (here). 

So today was the bang game - or that was the plan anyway. Kipling (like his father) tries to guess the game as it's evolving - one of the things I LOVE about operant conditioning. If X is good is X plus Y better? So the first rep, Kipling ran at the board, hit the pivot point, I lowered the teeter (slowed the descent), gave him a bit of hotdog at the landing side and then he promptly got himself into his 2o2o behavior. That's pretty cute Mr. Kippie! So what did he offer next? He turned around, walked back up the plank and banged it again (this time less help from me). Within 4 reps he was trotting right over the board and into the 2o2o. Confident and happy.

I didn't intend to videotape the session today, but decided to go get the camera after I realized that he was just going to just run the teeter. Watching this I realize that I need to put some more value into the release off the 2o2o - I love that he's getting there and staying there, but he's not always releasing on the first "OK". This means two things to me. I need to delay the release cue (for now) until he's finished chewing and is ready to hear "OK" and I need to put some value on the release. I'm not in a hurry for either - It's perfectly OK with me if he LOVES to hang out at the end of the contact boards.

Here's the second half of the session, I cropped out the squeaky tug reps for your viewing pleasure.

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