We have already talked about how Eppie has a crappy Give and used a cued Drop to address it. Well, it’s still kinda crappy, just a little less so. To quote an Epic YouTube Fan,”Shaping=every repetition is less crappy than the last ????.” Hear, hear, Betsy! Here are the next two…
The Golden Ratio of Reinforcement
When we have a weak behavior and a strong behavior that are closely related that we could work together, the tendency most people seem to have is to work the strong expression much more than the weak and they tend to separate them in to distinct sessions, lest the good one get all polluted by the crappy one.
At Pawsitive Vybe we flip that. We work the strong behavior 3x and follow it up immediately with 1 rep of the weak behavior. We put them right next to each other. A good example is Spin and Twist, Spin being spin around in front of the handler clockwise and Twist being spin around counter clock. Usually these are unbalanced with one being better than the other. Another situation would be Heel and Side position and heeling (not my forte, BTW…).
The typical method has the handler working the strong one until it’s super strong and then placing focus on the weaker one, usually at the exclusion of the strong behavior. So you do your strong SPIN, SPIN, SPIN, and then take a break and work TWIST, TWIST, TWIST… or you make HEEL completely amazing and then focus a bunch of time on SIDE. This sets up a tough challenge and a strong likelihood of more failure while adding stress to the lesson.
3X Strong : 1x Weak
Instead of separating the skills then focusing exclusively on the weak expression or the weak behavior, try working the strong behavior 3x and then get a quick rep of the weak behavior.
This shift in focus changes the nature of the game and leverages the intensity and excitement of the game towards achieving success on the weak behavior. The success and energy level reinforces the likelihood of a successful rep on the weak side.
In addition to reinforcing success on the weak side using the Golden Ratio of Reinforcement draws the similarities of the two behaviors together at the same time the differences are exposed. This is the essence of compare and contrast type learning. By putting two similar objects next to each other it becomes very easy to identify each and to compare the similarities and contrast the differences.
Learning vs Proofing
Working on the Give alone leads to lots of tugging and pulling. I would consider that a proofing exercise, a test of my training: “Has my schtick worked? Let’s see…”
Knowing the difference between Learning and Proofing and structuring training sessions with that knowledge in mind is a huge part of successful dog training.
Our theory on learning and acquisition of behaviors via shaping is that we want 15-30 Cookies Per Minute (CPM). This creates an exciting game and makes failure nearly impossible which reinforces success.
3 Drops to 1 Give = High CPM
At this point in time I’m addressing this lesson in learning mode. High CPM is being used to create a hot game that is fun. Eppie is being foolish holding on to the disc on the Give. We are easily hitting the low end 15 CPM and are jumping up into the high end.
This Rate of Reinforcement sets up a situation where holding onto the disc on the Give is costing Eppie more jam, and it’s obvious. This is our second session. We’ll do a few more before taking this skill into the proofing realm and letting the rate of reinforcement work in our favor.
3rd Session – Video Killed the Dog Training Star
This session is just more of the same with some additional info for you, the viewer. At the end I do some testing of the skill and try to look cool on camera and get you guys something additional and interesting to look at.
I think we need a few more reps before a good solid test and/or some more thoughtful, traditional work on the Give. You’ll have to stay tuned to see what happens…
Dangers of Pattern Training
I’m pretty cool with this method. I trust that it’s going to work out in my favor in the end and that the skill will generalize to other positions and other situations. That said, “in the end” and “will” are the key words.
There is some danger of pattern training in this method. Eppie picked fussed around with a disc in a game of Timewarp in the Triple Crown last week. Not saying that was due to this training, but I’m not going to say that it was not possible that this training fed the problem.
I think it is important to mix it up a bit and try to change up your timing and the situation while doing something like this, but that’s dog training. Any training method that is highly successful and powerful can turn into a pattern and lead to trouble breaking out of the box of that pattern.
Just be aware of the situation and understand that unintended pattern training can be an issue.