Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Reviewing foundation

We just finished doing a lot of foundation review. I set up a couple crates in the basement. that way, Mika and Wall-e could easily take turns.

We mostly did 101 things to do with a box. This was one of the very first things that I did with Wall-e when he came home as a 5 1/2 month old puppy. It was an awesome game for encouraging him to offer behaviours! We did so many shaping games during his initial foundation training that today, Wall-e is VERY operant. Especially with box-like objects...if he sees a box, laundry basket, etc. in the hallway, he'll immediately start interacting with it.

Anyway... The idea is that the dog should interact with a cardboard box (or any other object) and offer different behaviours. When you first start out, you should mark for any behaviours, even repeated ones. When I first started playing this game with Mika a couple years ago, because she wasn't very operant at the time, I marked simply for her looking in the direction of the box. It took many sessions, but finally she offered her first "real" behaviour -- scratching the side of the box with her paw! I can still remember how overjoyed I was. Now, she's very operant!

The biggest difference between Wall-e and Mika is that when I play shaping games with Mika, she'll bark incessantly throughout the entire session, barking louder and louder if she ever gets stuck on a behaviour! (I try not to let that happen :) Wall-e, on the other hand, doesn't make a peep except for an occasional woof if he gets stuck.

Back to today's session. (Why is it that I always get off track when blogging about training sessions?) When Mika had her turn with the 101 things to do with a box game, she didn't even see the box at first. She just got on her hind legs and barked and barked and barked! This dog has SO much attitude, but I love it!! I just inched closer and closer to the box until she finally saw it. Unlike Wall-e, who just jumps right in (literally!) and starts interacting with the object, Mika gradually increases her interaction. She started off by looking at the box, then beginning to sniff it, then pawing it, and eventually putting her two front feet inside. End of session, with a nice jackpot that I always give at the end of a session.

Wall-e had a good session too. First he jumped in the box, then immediately brought his front legs outside of the box and put them on the carpet, keeping his back feet in the box. It was a sort of "2on2off." He did this so fast that he really just had all four feet in the box for a split second before bringing his front feet out and landing them on the carpet.
I'm not surprised that the first behaviour he offered was 2o2o...Wall-e loves 2o2o and is generalizing it to everything now! (Aha, Success!) He really liked this behaviour and kept offering it over and over. But when I paused to let him offer a different behaviour, he pulled his front legs back into the box. He offered that a couple more times, and then we ended the session. He looked really cute standing or sitting in that little box (well, fairly little).

Actually, I was using a Clean Run box, that my new books came in! I got 3 books from CR for Christmas: Dogged Pursuit, Control Unleashed (the book, not the DVD), and Canine Massage in Plain English. I'm about a third-way through Dogged Pursuit and it's hilarious!

Also just realized that Wall-e is 19 months old today. Wow.



  1. It's very cool that you worked so hard to get Mika to be willing to offer you behaviors - I'm more like Mika than Wall-e for sure!

    We have read Dogged Pursuit (funny but kind of over-the-top) and Control Unleashed (which we got last Christmas and have read at least 3 times). I guess you have Shaping Success? That is our all-time favorite so far!

  2. You guys sound as busy as we are. Mama always keeps us doing something from draft work, to therapy jobs, rally obedience, and lots of walkies. Glad we found your blog!
    xoxo, Katie and Louie the Newfies