Thursday, February 6, 2014

Clicker Expo 2014: Michele Pouliot: Super Friendly to Super Cool

can be used for overly-friendly dogs or for fearful dogs
basically it's splitting a trigger down as much as possible, and rewarding a default behavior you like or staying next to your side, allowing the dog to learn self control

turn the "trigger" into a cue for the desired behavior
build history of positive reinforcement for the desired behavior
present trigger at level that allows successs
use "real life" triggers - not fake, played up triggers/actors

common triggers: stranger looks at dog, person talks to dog/owner, person approaches, person extends hand, person comes within reach

what is the lowest intensity trigger that sparks emotion in your dog, before a full-blown reaction?

same technique for any emotion in dog
turn it into a game

stand behind a line (can be tape on ground, a crack in the sidewalk, on a platform, or on a ledge that gives a clear boundary) - c/t staying behind line, high RoR, errors should be few or non-existant (else difficulty is too high)
clickable behaviors: not moving toward trigger, returning to handler, loosening pull on leash, looking at handler, offering alternate behavior (ie sit)
may get other forms of exuberance as dog is learning, such as jumping up and down, wiggling
slow down RoR when dog is being successful, and trigger is becoming cue to check in

other tips we all need to be reminded of:
internationally, all dogs know this cue: the hand reaching for the pocket!
don't block the info of the clicker with the info of the food (food visibly in hand, hand in pocket, etc)

I will add this to my toolbox for teaching self control to overly-excited greeters. I like the idea of using masking tape and giving the client a clear visual aid and instructions ("reward frequently as long as your dog is not crossing the line, hold still if he does cross it and wait").

The best part of this lab was when I volunteered to be the first person to try it, in front of everyone else. Michelle told my assistant to talk to Chimera sweetly, and "pretend that he's the cutest dog in the world." In front of everyone, I held up a hand in the "whoa there" position and said with a straight face, "That's not pretending." I got a big laugh and for the rest of the weekend, people refered to Cai as "the cutest dog in the world." He and I both enjoyed the attention. :)

When it was our working turn, Cai quickly caught on that the point was to stand still and check in with me frequently no matter how enticing the assistants were. He already had some foundation for this, since we've been preparing for the obedience Stand for Exam. I actually had one of them give Cai a few pats down the back like a judge would for novice. I would do something similar for a dog who has good control until the human starts OMG petting them!

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