Saturday, February 13, 2010

Lynn teaches me yet another lesson :)

Things were going well...Lynn was running her dogwalk PERFECTLY...fast, correct and I was having a blast with it! THEN...she tripped on the dogwalk and fell...not a bad fall, just kind of ran off the side of the dogwalk. It was 28" tall and she landed on her feet in the soft dirt :) I didn't even think anything of it...we played, we tugged and acted like there wasn't an issue...

Well there was. Later, we did a few more dogwalks and she was hesitant, and jumping...not hitting ANY contacts...jumping all of them.

So we stopped and I began another round of brain storming. I decided to just reward ALL dogwalks...even the jumps. Yes, even the jumped contacts. She knows to run and has had MANY MANY rewards for running only...so if I just reward all...would she just get it and go back to the default behavior? I had no idea...but I was willing to try :)

I had to let go of my perfection idea...I couldn't get good, I had to settle for horrible and see where it went from there...I had to reward the BAD ones...yikes...

But as you can see from the video--things went well :) And I learned a lot from this.



Even is doing well also ;) She kicks it in just as soon as she figures things out...and you better be ready for it! LOL Definetly a different dog from her sister Lynn :)

8 comments:

Sare said...

Lookin' good! Did you tape any of the ones of Lynn jumping. Just curious.

fulltiltbcs said...

The first two runs are jumps...and then the next several are one foot in barely...which I wouldn't really want...

Ricky the Sheltie said...

It was a fantastic idea to reward for anything Lynn offered you on the dogwalk after she briefly lost her confidence! We all worry so much about rewarding the correct behavior and your experiment proves that there's more to it than that. Thanks for sharing your experience and way to go Lynn and Even!

fulltiltbcs said...

Ricky,

I have to admit it was REALLY REALLY hard to just let things happen. But I figured, what worse could happen, she was already jumping...so there ya go!

Sarah--I did record the day she fell off, but my camera froze and the disk was ruined...but it was basically just several of her doing well, then the fall, then several of her running just like the first two you saw on this video...so nothing super amazing.

Sare said...

Okay, now watching again I see the first two. She is so fast I missed it the first time. Just trying to keep training my eye to see those little details that go by so quickly. Thanks for sharing.

Nancy said...

It was very easy to see that Lynn was very tense as she jumped the end of the board in those first few clips. You always have to consider their state of mind when they are performing and not just look at how they are executing. Because Lynn was tense and upset from her experience, she was not thinking about what she was doing, so by NOT rewarding she would have gotten much more tense and stressed and it would not have improved.

So, even though you say you were rewarding for mistakes, if you think about this differently, you were actually rewarding her for effort and focus - which then led to her focus improving so that you could get back to rewarding her performance.

I think that this is more difficult for you (us) to see when it comes to the precision teaching we are doing in agility, but easier to see when you are training the dogs in herding. You are rewarding for lots of mistakes because you are not looking for the perfect performance, you are looking at a lot of different things leading up to them understanding how to use their natural skills and trust themselves to move the stock. When they are tense and stressed, there are fights (with us and with the sheep) so there are more mistakes. I think if you think about all the subtle rewards that happen in herding, it might be easier to see why this worked with Lynn.

When you reward effort

fulltiltbcs said...

Nancy that is SOOO very true. I wouldn't have thought TWICE about this in herding!!!

Isn't that funny how a person's mind changes in between training different things?

You got that one right on the nose! :) Thanks for the response!

Nancy said...

That's why working dogs on stock is so difficult to learn when you first start out. It's not easy to explain this to new people, but more instinctive to those that have done it for awhile (and have been there, done that). I'm still learning, too.

I've always said that I've learned more about training dogs for obedience and agility competition because of training dogs on stock. I use the same principles on my students that have terriers and other non-herding dogs and it works. They're dogs and they all learn the same way. It's just that the reinforcer isn't quite as strong as it is with Border Collies on sheep.