Thursday, 22 March 2012

Capturing Calmness with a Mat

I had started teaching Kobi a "Go Lie Down" cue to get him to go lie on his bed, worked on it a little, need to be far more diligent about it though. After reading control unleashed I decided to teach Kobi  "Mat" cue as well. This way "Go lie down" would be when we're at home and we want a few minutes peace, but he can choose to leave his bed when he wants. It's his bed (along with Scout's) and they can lie on it or not lie on it. It's there for when they don't want to curl up on the cool floor, or as Kobi prefers the hearth tiles.
Beds around our house need to be big enough for two sprawled dogs.

 The "Mat" cue would be for a new mat, a large bath mat actually, that is most portable than his bed, so in the future I could take it places like the vets and have him lie calmly on it. However, with this mat, he will need to be released from it, so I need to get him to love this mat and want to lay on it for long periods of time calmly in distracting environments. I'm going about teaching it to him in the way that is laid out in control unleashed, so he now knows that lying on the mat gets a better reward than standing on it or sitting on it. I have yet to add the cue word to it yet, I want him to really associate it with being a calm happy place before I do.

 I started working with the mat in a training session, but since my post the other day I decided to scrap that idea and incorporate it into more daily activities. So for example yesterday I was working on painting a display sign for a local restaurant called Chez Tess, and decided to put his mat next to my chair and just toss treats down at various times rewarding him for just lying there.

This morning since it's been so gorgeous here (26+ C in March!), I decided I wanted to eat breakfast out on the balcony. Kobi like coming out on the balcony simply because I'm out there, but normally within a few seconds he notices sounds or people going by and barks very defensively. So this morning I brought the mat out with me, he laid down on it after a few minutes and I treated him randomly. He stayed on the mat the entire time which was great, but he wasn't quiet the entire time. Though I was trying to calmly eat breakfast, I had to keep a close eye on people walking by so I could make sure to increase his rate of reinforcement for staying quiet. He did have a lot of growly chewing an if he noticed someone before I did he would start barking. It's something to work on, but with this gorgeous weather, I am happy to sit outside and just feed him treats, it's still training! This afternoon I may go down to our porch so he can actually see people walking by and do the same exercise.

Here is a video of me teaching Kobi to use his mat. I took this video before I changed my morning routine with feeding him a little before going for a walk then training so as can be seen there is a lot of frustrated barking from him to try to get some food. What I was trying to do was treat rapidly for a few seconds then wait silently for the same amount of time before giving another treat. Didn't work, what I should have been doing was using a random rate of reinforcement so that he never knew when he would get a treat.

1 comment:

  1. I love reading your training posts--they are great reminders and reinforcements of all my favorite training books and methods. I've been doing something similar with Fozzie to get him to give Lamar space when he's on our bed, and its amazing how quickly he learns!