Hooligan Labrador, with a large audience, in a hotel....

Discussion in 'Clicker Training' started by JulieT, Aug 6, 2015.

  1. JulieT

    JulieT Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    If I don't write some of this down, I'll never do it!

    I have just finished a session with Michele Poulieot (she is a big cheese in the US guide dog for the blind training programme) - "super friendly to super cool" and she gave a lecture on the techniques she uses with guide dogs to get them to ignore distractions. I had Charlie in the session with me and got to do each exercise after she'd explained it.

    It was an absolutely packed room, and I was a bit flustered because I'd changed my session at the last minute, but went to the wrong room...blah blah anyway....Charlie was a super star. I was the one that was a bit all over the place, and my dog was as cool as a cucumber in comparison.

    We had the dogs look at the trigger - it was like "look at that" but we wanted the dogs to look and stay calm, we were not waiting for them to look back, and didn't shift the reward marker to that. Michele Poulieot said that the dog looking at us made us feel really good, but in the real world the dog has to look and stay calm, not look at the handler (particularly since the handler might be blind anyway.....). I was really happy about this, because I have recently been doubting my strategy not to train "look at me" as a default (and having listened to Kay Laurence earlier on default behaviours, even more glad).

    We started with a rapid reinforcement of clicks and treats (it was for a continuous behaviour and Barbara and I had quizzed Kay Laurence and Cecilie Koste on clicking for holding a position yesterday, so got that straight) and the behaviour we were rewarding was stillness (in terms of not moving forwards). But I slightly forgot (because I was flustered) the lesson of yesterday and I didn't get him to stay still also while I delivered the reward - so I'll have to work on that later. He moved so he could see my hand going for his treat (obviously after the click only).

    Charlie was just fab and we rapidly progressed to having people approach us, waving, calling out to Charlie, and then even waving food and he was just great. I couldn't quite believe it was my dog. Plus he had dogs around him while he was doing it. Super star.

    By the end of the session I was reducing my rate of reinforcement and Charlie was looking at the person/people/food for longer and longer and people even started to reach out to pat him. He'd look back at me, but I would just wait for him to look again at the trigger and carry on.

    Was a really great session, and made more realistic of "real life" in that I had as many strangers as I wanted at any time. Only thing was I thought this meant Charlie was quite "meh" around people - he is much more focussed on people if there is just, say, one person on an empty street (and that's the only show in town) than in a lecture room packed to the rafters with people, dogs, sound systems, videos playing, etc. .
     
  2. drjs@5

    drjs@5 Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Cool Charlie!
     
  3. JulieT

    JulieT Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Clicker expo is like meeting the internet! :D:D:D I was sat behind the Glasgow Dog trainer, listening to Emily Larlham yesterday.

    Being at clicker expo as just a pet owner is a bit funny. I knew there would be lots of trainers here, But I didn't realise that "99% of delegates work professionally with animals" - I found that out in the introductory session. There are 300 people here...so, there are 3 pet owners. Barbara is one other, and another lady with a GSD made a point of coming up to me to tell me she was also "just a pet owner"!

    So, that's strange, and a little scary. A lot of the classes are obviously about training people to train, and there is a lot of "when you get clients to do this" and "this would be too complicated for a first contact client" and so on.

    I also find that when I'm with my dog people want to train me! Having worked in a few Labs now and said I was a pet owner.....But that's easily avoided. :D

    So everyone else here with a dog (apart from the Lady with the GSD) is a professional.

    On the whole (but far from all) these dogs have much, much stronger trained behaviours than Charlie does - so, for example, my default settle on a mat only held up through the first session, and subsequently broke down, particularly when Charlie was close to other dogs.

    Charlie is also clearly in a much more excited state around the hotel, he has his head up, prancing, tugging on his lead and is eager to go say hi to everyone.

    But, what Charlie hasn't done is: barked, growled at other dogs, growled at people, had a fit at the sight of a cleaning trolly, been frozen with fear in reception because a crowd of kids walked in and so on. All of which I've seen other dogs do (I suspect a great deal of them may be rescues and have no doubt been on a long and successful journey to come here at all).

    So, I'm pretty darned thrilled with him. Hair and ball point pen eating aside...

    Living in the hotel with him has been fine although he still finds walking along hotel corridors massively exciting - full of possibilities of meeting people and dogs round every corner :rolleyes: but he calmed down a lot since his arrival when he was pretty awful. I booked really early and got a room with doors out onto a very large grass area, so that helps.

    Charlie says the bed is fine....what do you mean "no dogs on the bed"? What's the dog charge for then? :D

    [​IMG]hotel by julieandcharlie julieandcharlie, on Flickr
     
  4. Stacia

    Stacia Registered Users

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    Very interesting to read, looking forward to more.
     
  5. Cath

    Cath Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Enjoying your write up very much Julie.
     
  6. JulieT

    JulieT Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Hee Hee - Charlie is such a "cheeky boy" I'd actually hate for him to be perfect, really. But, I reckon there is probably no chance of that, so I'll keep training and risk it I think!
     
  7. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    I couldn't agree more :) :) :)

    It would be nice to be just a touch closer to perfect, though ;)

    Great write-up so far. I would be star-struck with all those internet sensations around. I'm amazed there aren't more regular pet owners there!
     
  8. JulieT

    JulieT Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    The Doggie Zen class was yesterday, with Cecile Koste. It wasn't quite what I expected, and was more about arousal management than anything else.

    I'd done very similar exercises before - you have a bowl with something yummy in it (food, toy, whatever) and the dog is rewarded for looking, then turning away. But here, the purpose is to build up the value of the bowl. You are not trying to get the dog to "give up" the bowl, just be able to manage himself around it (I'm not quite sure that describes what I mean, exactly). The bowl has to stay exciting - if your dog doesn't rush to the bowl when you say "take it" then it is losing its power as a desirable reward and you have to go back to building that up again.

    So we started by Charlie looking away, then walking away etc. He did this fine, he has done similar things before although he was very excited (of course, as this was the first Lab so the very first time Charlie had trained in a hotel, in a room packed with people and dogs) so we had to work at it a bit. Then we had the dogs being able to do things (walk at heel, or come into a heel position) and so on.

    On it's own, this wasn't a big deal, or anything I hadn't done before. But it was in a really helpful format. To have someone talk through the principles, show you a video, and then get to do it was very helpful.

    I learned things like my hand goes to my treat bag too soon and so on. I knew that was a habit, but it's been a little while since I had anyone watch me train so it was helpful to have things like that pointed out again.

    We watched some videos of how you can advance the technique and get the dog to do more and more complicated things, for longer, before he gets to rush to his bowl for his reward, and the instructor describes putting the bowl down outside the obedience ring, and then allowing the dog the reward later. I was a bit doubtful this is a good idea to be honest. Or, more that I thought the reward would be fine, but I doubt it would act as a reinforcer for the performance in the ring....but, whatever. If it works...

    Towards the end, Cecile asked for a volunteer to bring their dog up to be a demo dog (we were sort of scattered around the room to give the dogs space), so I stuck my hand up quickly (scary, but I thought in for a penny and all that) and this was really helpful as the example we were demonstrating was clicking for holding a position - this is a subject that we have debated before on the forum.

    Charlie typically moves on the click, apart from where I've been taught to deliver his treat "in position" then he will wait where he is for a treat. But normally, my click acts as my release. It doesn't on my placeboards, where he will wait to see whether his treat will be delivered to him, or is a thrown ball etc. But on something like a sit or a down, my click definitely has exactly the same function as my release cue. Indeed it also does on my close (heel) cue which was inconvenient.

    So I learned how to get Charlie not to move on the click - both Barbara and I asked a few questions about this, but we didn't really understand the point until the next session when we asked Kay Laurence the same question....

    Got to go now, fill Charlie's kong and get to the next lecture.
     
  9. drjs@5

    drjs@5 Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Sounds like a fabulous learning experience.

    So who here thinks Julie should set up her own positive training class for wayward labradors on Wombledon common? ;)
     
  10. Karen

    Karen Moderator Forum Supporter

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    How fascinating! Sounds like Charlie is being a real star Julie - you must be very proud of him!
     
  11. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    Me! Me! I shall offer to be the first victim in a couple of weeks :) :)

    And, Julie, you can't end it like that! We need to understand it, too!!! Don't leave us hanging!
     
  12. drjs@5

    drjs@5 Moderator Forum Supporter

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    She will be eating drinking and making merry with Barbara and her new best buds ;)
     
  13. JulieT

    JulieT Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Yes! We were! Only we skipped the networking event to hang out with the Chocolate Boy and ordered room service. :) Charlie had a kong that I made myself though, they didn't have kongs on the hotel menu. :rolleyes:

    Charlie is tired, although he only did one Learning Lab today, it was 2 hours and very "full on" for him. I'm glad he only has one, not two, to do tomorrow (I'm not going to gundog class after all, I'm going to stay for the morning of expo).

    [​IMG]clicker expo selfie by julieandcharlie julieandcharlie, on Flickr
     
  14. drjs@5

    drjs@5 Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Aww...great photo!
    Shocking that they didn't have Kong on the menu - bet they would have gone down a storm.

    What does it say on Charlie's collar. Is it just your name? Looks like "blah blah's SON" He He

    What are you doing tomorrow?
     
  15. bbrown

    bbrown Moderator

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    Crumbs you are so good at writing everything up! My brain is almost full. It's been very cool to speak with the authors and proponents of all the videos we watch. Their training skills are seriously impressive.

    They're all slightly different though and it's easy to get confused. You have to think about why it all works which comes back to classic and operant conditioning with a bit of Premack and Pavlov thrown in. There is no right or wrong answer....you dig down to the why and then you decide how to apply that to your dog and your skills and your end goal.

    For example in a session about Premack Kathy Sdao talked about an example of allowing a dog to chase a squirrel in order to reinforce heel work. The detail is important though.....the squirrel was near a tree so had an escape route, the dog remained on lead and Kathy ran with the dog. So the whole set up allowed the chase but prevented capture. This can be hard to set up so you may choose not to do it.....but it works. The science proves it.

    There's a lot of talk about options and tools but little definitive if this happens then do that. It always depends :D
     
  16. bbrown

    bbrown Moderator

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    And I have loved having cuddles and ear lucks from my gorgeous surrogate dog, lovely Charlie xxx
     
  17. JulieT

    JulieT Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    It has all got SO confusing. "Get it!" (the reinforcer) in Doggie zen. Never "get it" in super cool (because the target could be an old Lady...). Click and Treat for movement, Click and Treat for no movement...all the techniques seem to contradict - but you can reconcile them - but the consistency, structure and order required in your training is immense! Or much, much more than I'm used to applying anyway....

    What do we think of Emily's new hair do...I like it, I think...... (here is "the internet" in the flesh - Emily, Michelle, Kathy, Ken....).

    [​IMG]El1 by julieandcharlie julieandcharlie, on Flickr

    [​IMG]El2 by julieandcharlie julieandcharlie, on Flickr
     
  18. JulieT

    JulieT Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    I don't have tags - I think the jangle must irritate a dog (and even if that's nonsense, it irritates me! :D:D:D ). So his details are printed on his collar.
     
  19. JulieT

    JulieT Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    You can train anything you want to train. You can use your clicker in whatever way you want (although not all "choice based positive reinforcement trainers" would agree with what you do, but that's another matter). You can have your dog move on the click, or stay still on the click - and the way you get him to do what you want is the treat delivery. If you want your dog to stay in position, then deliver "breakfast in bed" (kay laurence) ie feed in position. If you want him to move, toss the treat. If you want to encourage the next movement in the behaviour, feed the treat consistent with that.

    But how you decide what to do, and then BE ABSOLUTELY consistent about that, depends on really thinking through the whole training exercise and HAVING A PLAN. Sometimes, you want to feed in the position of 'the next step' you are going to build. Sometime you just want to reinforce still behaviour, sometimes you want to 'reset' for the next repetition.

    No always right answers......
     
  20. JulieT

    JulieT Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    So in order not to get further behind.....the last session today was a panel discussion. It was a lot more interesting than I thought it would be, and 1.5 hours whizzed by...

    It was interesting that most of the 'faculty' started off training other animals, and moved on to training dogs. And most of them just accepted that you trained (eg) Polar Bears with positive reinforcement, and dogs with positive punishment. Let's face it, hands up who wants to use body intimidation techniques on a Polar Bear? :D But then they had the "ah-ah" moment in one way or another.

    Kathy Sado was interesting in saying claiming positive reinforcement doesn't work is a way of hanging onto and valuing a skill that she alread had. To admit it worked, and was better, was sort of "de-skilling" herself and her previous experience.

    Ken Ramirez, who I had heard of but not read his books (but I will now), was impressive. This chap trains ANYTHING. Butterflies. Yes, really. There is a BBC documentary out next year about him training butterflies to fly and swam on cue. They don't respond to positive punishment on account of a face slap by a human tends to squish them....

    But I most loved the training of the snakes. How do you give a rattle snake a vet examination? hmmmm? They are extremely fast, very poisonous little blighters. And you can't do many reps - they only eat one rat every 2 weeks. Fast repetitions are kinda out....

    So you use a vibration tone at the end of a long, large tunnel. Snake moves through tunnel and finds rat. Repeat 2 weeks later...make tunnel smaller...6 months later...snake moves through very small tube and then you can cap the tube. Done. Snake doesn't mind, because it won't give up because one time it didn't get the rat. Very persistent, snakes. Apparently.

    If you have an animal that hoards food - octopus and otters - it doesn't matter. They find the act of hoarding food very reinforcing. You click (or vibrate - whatever) and treat and the octopus stores the food. You can keep going until it's full, then you need to let it scurry away to scoff the food.

    How do you train a Llama (or whatever)? Same way as you train a dog...no different. Although the marker and food might differ. And if it's a big cat 'from behind a fence' is a good idea...

    Oh, and you can also train snakes with heat. Snakes will respond to even a 2 degree change in temperature. I'm sure you are glad you know that, it'll come in handy, I'm sure. :D:D:D

    We get away with STACKS when we are training dogs. We can be really, really sloppy and the dog generally 'gets it' and continues to co-operate with us when we mess up, and generally wants to hang out with us and doesn't want to rip our heads off and eat us. We've sort of got it easy.....

    EVERY positive reinforcement trainer from the US says 'awesome' at least once every 30 seconds. I think it's a great habit and intend to adopt it forthwith.
     

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