Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 51

Piggy Pointer: I would like to clarify that the Pigs Fly club does not begin and end with hounds and terriers. One of my student’s Border Collies was so squirrelly and difficult to train that he earned an honorary position in the Pigs Fly Hall of Fame. Any dog can join the club—all he needs is a physical or mental peculiarity that makes him less than abundantly eager and able to participate in agility. Step 3 Once your dog clearly offers the first approximation and you have reinforced it several times, stop clicking it Once you would be willing to bet that your dog is going to offer that approximation, in this case looking toward the poles, you are ready to move on to the next step. Stop clicking the glance toward the poles and watch what happens next. poles (check); turn 45° to find entrance (check). Calculate speed and decelerate to 2 YPS (check), rock back on haunches to land in correct entrance (check), and so forth. Giving your dog big, complicated behaviors, such as weaving through the poles, as a series of small, relatively easy behaviors will make those behaviors doable for him, even under pressure. It is true that any dog, even a talented Border Collie, needs to learn all these steps to perform weave poles, and you would always have the best weave poles if you took the time to break the poles down and reinforce every step, no matter what kind of dog you have. If you had a high-drive, talented agility dog, however, you might get by without breaking everything down. An A-list agility dog might be motivated and talented enough to figure it out on his own—maybe not as well or as reliably as if you broke it down—but, in many cases, pretty darn well. As a Pigs Fly dog owner, you can just forget about that. You are going to have to break down and reinforce every approximation because your dog is probably not going to figure it out on his own. It is physically difficult for many dogs to do the weave poles, and when you add the fact that you have to be a good salesperson to convince a Pigs Fly dog that he should want to do the weave poles at all, you need all the help you can get. The more you break down and teach each step, the better off you will be. Although we are using weave poles in this example, the same holds true for any agility obstacle/behavior. Step 4 Step 2 Reinforce the first approximation until your dog is offering it again and again In our weave pole example, a good first approximation would be to look toward the poles. How many times you will have to reinforce that approximation will depend on how operant your dog is and how well he understands the game. A dog experienced with free shaping may need to be reinforced only a couple of times on any given level before proceeding. A dog that is new to the game may need a bunch of reinforcements. Here is one of the places where the art versus the science of training comes in. You have to look at your dog and judge when you think he is deliberately offering that first approximation again and again, apparently with the understanding that that particular behavior is making the clicker go off. That is your cue that you are ready to move to the next step. Watch carefully for any “improvement” your dog offers on that behavior, and click it Now you are going to hold out for the next approximation—perhaps one footstep toward the pole or maybe just a bigger head turn toward the poles. This game works because dogs learn very quickly what gets them treats. If looking toward the poles gets them treats, they remember that and offer it. If the look toward the poles has been reinforced enough times they will keep offering it, even if you stop reinforcing it. Dogs are hopeful creatures, and when they figure out that looking toward the poles does not get them treats anymore, they will start offering “improvements” on it, like a head turn or foot movement. Your job is to catch those improvements and click them. By building on each small improvement that leads toward a behavior (or an approximation of the behavior), you eventually get the behavior you want. WITHHOLDING THE CLICK Here is a sequence that shows how withholding the click will cause the dog to offer “improvements.” This frame shows the dog in the place where I have reinforced her a few times already, and she is confidently offering this behavior. This time, however, I am not going to click it. March 08 | Clean Run She has gotten clicked for walking into this position several times before, and she mugs me for her click. When I remain impassive and do not click her, she tries taking another step—that’s when I click. I throw a cookie back and away to set her up for another try. She seems very keen on getting back to those poles. After a few more reinforcements, she has no hesitation in going on to the next level and actually entering the poles. 51

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clean Run Magazine - March 2008

Clean Run Magazine - March 2008
Contents
Editorializing: An Anthropologist at a Dog Show
Tip of the Month
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Backyard Dogs
Give Your Dog a Running Start
On Course with Ronda Carter
Trainer’s Forum
How to Get the Most from Your Agility Classes
Foundation Fundamentals: Restrained Recalls and Chase Games
What Is a Handling System?
Pre-Agility Skills: Laying the Foundation, Part 1
Alternative Medicine for Your Canine Athlete: Navigating the Options
Agility? Deaf-initely!
When Pigs Fly: Agility Success with “Impossible” Dogs
Skill of the Month
Shelter Champs: Sadie
Spy Kids: Goals to Prepare for Competition
Distance Challenge
Focus on Recalls
Cece’s Gym Exercise of the Month: Back and Trunk Strengthening
In Cider
Letters
Course Diagram Keys
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Clean Run Magazine - March 2008
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 2
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Contents
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 4
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Editorializing: An Anthropologist at a Dog Show
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Tip of the Month
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Backyard Dogs
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 9
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 10
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Give Your Dog a Running Start
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 12
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 13
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 14
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 15
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 16
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 17
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - On Course with Ronda Carter
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 19
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 20
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 21
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Trainer’s Forum
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 23
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 24
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - How to Get the Most from Your Agility Classes
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 26
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 27
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 28
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Foundation Fundamentals: Restrained Recalls and Chase Games
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 30
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 31
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 32
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - What Is a Handling System?
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 34
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 35
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 36
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 37
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Pre-Agility Skills: Laying the Foundation, Part 1
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 39
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 40
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 41
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 42
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Alternative Medicine for Your Canine Athlete: Navigating the Options
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 44
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 45
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Agility? Deaf-initely!
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 47
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 48
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 49
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - When Pigs Fly: Agility Success with “Impossible” Dogs
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 51
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 52
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 53
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 54
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 55
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Skill of the Month
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 57
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 58
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Shelter Champs: Sadie
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 60
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 61
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 62
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Spy Kids: Goals to Prepare for Competition
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 64
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 65
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 66
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 67
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 68
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Distance Challenge
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 70
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 71
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 72
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Focus on Recalls
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Cece’s Gym Exercise of the Month: Back and Trunk Strengthening
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 75
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 76
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - In Cider
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 78
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 79
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 80
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Letters
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - Course Diagram Keys
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 83
Clean Run Magazine - March 2008 - 84
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