Cookie Class Excerpt: Marking Orientation & Pedestal Circuit

This is an excerpt from our Wednesday Afternoon Patron’s Only Cookie Class.

Shaping Engagement: Mark Orientation & Reward with Action

In the first part of this class excerpt Finn & Jake are working pedestal introduction. Jake doesn’t like working for cookies so much, and Finn has struggled getting him to engage with food. We have been working on the Pedestal behavior for the last couple of sessions and Finn is just starting to get Jake excited about working for food.

In this session we’re trying to bump up the session intensity so Jake can get fired up and so Finn can start to leverage the intensity level of the training session itself as a cookie. This is pretty important if we are going to get Jake, a drivey border collie with lots of eye to dig working for cookies.

At the beginning of the session, Finn was waiting until Jake stopped sniffing and looked at him or looked ready before connecting and initiating work. A simple shift in criteria to “orientation” makes a dramatic difference in the rate of reinforcement and intensity level of the training session. In just a few reps, Finn shaves off 1/2 the “waiting around” time and dramatically bumps up the rate of reinforcement to make the cookie training session much more fun and successful for Jake.

Making the Dog Late to the Party

If you wait for the dog to show up to the party then the party can’t start until the dog arrives.

Finn, and many handlers, wait for the dog to “be ready” to work. This leads to a lot of down time and tells the dog that this is the pace of play of this type of training. Historically, Jake thinks this pace of play is pretty lame – he really wishes he were playing disc.

By marking orientation, the moment that Jake turns towards his handler, Finn is interrupting the sniffing and otherwise checked out behavior. Paying this early engagement criteria by Rewarding with Action pulls Jake off the sniffing and lallygagging and makes Jake late to the party.

After a few reps of being late to the Party Jake decides that he better eat his cookie and hustle up lest he miss out on some of the fun. Boom, Pow! Cookies are fun!

Pedestal Circuit with Odie

Odie really likes his Klimb table. Like, it really ROCKS! He does Juggles and Multiples up there and eats lots of cookies on that thing…New Pedestals? Not so much.

Odie actually has a problem with novel stimuli. Like Wayne and Garth, Odie fears change – he is spooked by new thnings. This is our 2nd attempt at the upside down bin. He’s been putting a couple feet on it and jumping over it since last week’s session.

We had a quick run at this in an earlier session in class today riffing off of Marking Reorientation like Finn & Jake and Rewarding with Action, and he went up there, but it’s still a bit dicey.

So we set up a Pedestal Circuit using the Klimb and a couple of other Pedestals to help Odie generalize the Pedestal behavior. The idea here is to get the Pedestal Behavior “hot” and capitalize on it so he will take some chances and try something “new”. We’re relying on the idea that if the only tool you have is a hammer that every problem looks like a nail.

And Elysia really nailed this session, handling-wise. She, historically, has some happy feet and is apt to move around unintentionally a bit which can be real trouble with a pressure sensitive border collie.In this session she smashed her leadership role and led Odie through the circuit with clear purpose and intent. Super awesome session.

We do this every Wednesday for all Patrons via Zoom, and all patrons at the Cup of Joe tier ($5/month) and above can download the videos from class. We’d love to have you join us. It’s pretty sweet. We get lots accomplished and have a ton of fun.

Become a Patron, join the class, support my work and get access to tons of goodies –

Peace & Happy Jamming!

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