Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 44

You Can’t Go Anywhere If There Is No Gas in the Tank: Creating an Operant Dog In the exercises that follow, you are going to learn how to become a human Skinner box and free shape behaviors. Like the Skinner box, you will not prompt/lure/compel your dog to do anything; but, like the rats in the Skinner box, your dog will become positively obsessed with figuring out how to make the rewards appear. People often think that Pigs Fly dogs do not have a work ethic, but that is not so. They have a work ethic all right, but it is primarily for projects that are not related to agility. Free shaping more closely resembles “natural” activities that your Pigs Fly dog loves and translates the agility game into terms he can understand. The obsession your dog currently has for figuring out how to get a varmint out of a hole, chasing down a deer, or tracking bunnies will be transferred to an obsession for figuring out how to make that clicker go off. Flying Pig-tionary: Free shaping: Training behaviors by rewarding small approximations of those behaviors without the use of luring or prompting. B.F. Skinner coined the term “shaping” in connection with his work on laboratory rats. Dog trainer Deb Jones, Ph.D., expanded the term to “free shaping” to emphasize the absence of prompting, luring, or compulsion. This transfer of obsession is why free shaping is central to the Pigs Fly system. If you push on your dog’s butt to get him to sit at the start line, lure him across the dogwalk with a piece of food, or correct him for doing the “wrong” obstacle, you are not using his natural way of thinking to your advantage. Sure, you might get him to do what you want him to do, but it will be a long, cold slog up a very steep hill. By free shaping him to do things, you can take a who-cares dog and make him crazy to do things for you. To be successful in free shaping behaviors, you will need a strong marker. I am assuming that you have powered up the clicker with your dog and you have some basic proficiency in using the clicker. If you are new to clickers and markers, see the sidebar, “Getting Loaded,” at the end of this article for instructions on how to power up the clicker. For additional information, you can visit Karen Pryor’s website at www. clickertraining.com or refer to my book, When Pigs Fly. If, for some reason, you prefer not to work with a clicker, you can use a verbal marker, a whistle, or, if your dog is deaf, a flashlight or a vibrating collar. What you use as a marker is not so important. But, whatever you use, it is crucial that you follow all the procedures for powering it up just as if it were a clicker. Recognize that every behavior is actually a series of smaller behaviors that add up to the final behavior. For example, imagine you are looking at a frame-by-frame motion picture of your dog picking up a tennis ball. What would the first frame be? Probably turning his eyes toward the ball. Next maybe a direct stare at the ball. Then lowering his head toward the ball, followed by maybe six more frames where his head gets progressively lower and lower. Touching his nose to the ball, then opening his mouth, then putting his mouth around the ball, then closing his mouth around the ball, then lifting his head for about six more frames comes next. Each of these “frames” is called an approximation—a little step toward the finished behavior of picking up a ball. If you want to teach your dog to pick up a ball by shaping him, you can progressively click and treat all the approximations until you have a finished behavior (more about that next month). You can shape any behavior in this way. Teaching a dog to run through 12 weave poles or run over the A-frame and hit a two-on/two-off contact is no different than teaching him to pick up a ball in his mouth. Different behaviors may require a smaller or larger number of approximations than others, but the principle is always the same. Now that you can see that a behavior can be built out of small approximations, your dog has to learn to offer those approximations so you can mark and reinforce them, which brings us to our first exercise. Thinking About the Box: Your Dog’s First Learning Game This exercise will get your dog hip to the rules of the game: he does all the work and you let him know when he has it right. The Pigs Fly training system deliberately begins with playing games rather than training actual agility behaviors so that you can concentrate on your mechanical training skills and your dog can concentrate on becoming operant. Teaching those perfect weave poles will come later. First, you must take that most crucial step on which 90% of dog training success depends: creating a dog that wants to work. If you begin by training agility behaviors, you are likely to get caught up in “getting it right” and the sessions will not be as free or mentally productive for you and your dog. Our goals by the end of this lesson are: • You will be fluent enough with the clicker that you will be able to mark the behaviors with some accuracy • Your dog will have opened up and started to offer behaviors continually Piggy Pointer: Think about this statement, for it is the foundation on which your training program will stand or fall: First, you must take that most crucial step on which 90% of dog training success depends: creating a dog that wants to work. If you have a Pigs Fly dog, only about 10% of your training program will be devoted to training actual agilityrelated behaviors. The other 90% is about getting your dog to work for you. The secret is that your dog does not learn any slower than any other breed of dog, but you have a lot more to teach him. Clean Run | February 08 44
http://www.clickertraining.com http://www.clickertraining.com

Clean Run Magazine - February 2008

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

Clean Run Magazine - February 2008
Contents
Editorializing: Barbarians at the Gate?
Tip of the Month
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Backyard Dogs
On Course with Annie Lehman
Basic Turns
Trainer’s Forum
Do You Have a Preferred Handling Speed?
Foundation Fundamentals: Dealing with Distractions, Part 2
Case Study: The King of the Off-course
Conquering Ring Nerves: How Do I Stop Shaking When I Step to the Line?
Sports Retraining for Agility Athletes
When Pigs Fly: What Is an Operant Dog? Why Should I Care?
Power Paws Patterns: Number Three
Cece’s Gym Exercise of the Month: Increasing Challenges on the Ball
Spy Kids: Balance in Training
Skill of the Month
When the Click Doesn’t End the Behavior: Conditioning a Release Signal
Shelter Champs: Dunk
Distance Challenge
Letters
Agility Organization Update
Nested Courses for Mardi Gras
Course Diagram Keys
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Clean Run Magazine - February 2008
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 2
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Contents
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 4
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Editorializing: Barbarians at the Gate?
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Tip of the Month
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Backyard Dogs
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 9
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 10
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 11
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 12
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 13
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - On Course with Annie Lehman
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 15
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 16
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Basic Turns
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 18
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 19
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 20
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 21
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Trainer’s Forum
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 23
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 24
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 25
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Do You Have a Preferred Handling Speed?
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 27
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 28
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Foundation Fundamentals: Dealing with Distractions, Part 2
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 30
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 31
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Case Study: The King of the Off-course
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 33
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 34
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 35
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Conquering Ring Nerves: How Do I Stop Shaking When I Step to the Line?
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 37
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 38
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Sports Retraining for Agility Athletes
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 40
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 41
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 42
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - When Pigs Fly: What Is an Operant Dog? Why Should I Care?
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 44
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 45
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 46
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 47
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 48
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Power Paws Patterns: Number Three
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 50
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 51
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Cece’s Gym Exercise of the Month: Increasing Challenges on the Ball
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 53
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 54
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 55
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 56
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Spy Kids: Balance in Training
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 58
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 59
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 60
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 61
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Skill of the Month
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 63
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 64
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - When the Click Doesn’t End the Behavior: Conditioning a Release Signal
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 66
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 67
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 68
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Shelter Champs: Dunk
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 70
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 71
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 72
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Distance Challenge
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 74
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 75
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 76
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Letters
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 78
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Agility Organization Update
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 80
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 81
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Course Diagram Keys
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 83
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 84
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