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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Perhaps Dumb dog is not dumb. Perhaps slow human is slow.

I have been.

dun dun dun

training Critter.


I've had this dog for, oh three years now, and shes, well. Slow.

Iam not a very verbal person with my dogs, that is generally an advantage, but in this case perhaps not. I prefer using a mechanical marker for behaviors (ie Clicker) and for Chili I will occasionally use a "yes" but I prefer the clicker honestly. I just don't like talking I guess.

Critter decided long ago she wanted NOTHING to do with this clicker shit. Not for anything or anyone. Not for roast beef, not for chicken. She would run away and pant and shake like a dog on july fourth (ironically, july forth does not bother her)

When she went on antianxiety meds, this reduced a bit, so she no longer had siezures when I clicked, she simply ran as far away as she could and jammed herself in a corner.

This presents many annoying dilemas for me.

One...I can't clicker train her. Obviously. And yes I have tried introducing it at low level barely audible. She freaks.

two...I can no longer just carry a clicker and use it whenever, if I do I risk her being afraid of EVERYTHING

three...she can hear it through TWO DOORS. So That means, having to put her away and train whoever I want in another room. She also still freak out. So I still have to deal with a freaking out dog.

So, lately, I have dabbled in training the dumb one. Her meds have made her functional, so I began to teach her to "touch". This was a task and a half, but she got it. Then she began to offer a "cheating"'ll get 1/2 inch from your hand and pull away. I NEVER reinforced this. I'd just ask for another touch and if she did it again, walked away. YET she continued and still continues to do this.

This really hurts my brain at this point. We have worked on this for MONTHS, and i have NEVER treated her after doing this behavior, but she still, on a regular basis offers it. And then she'll get like five in a row right, so I reinforce...and then she gets stupid again. Each time looking at me expectantly for a treat, fully believing she got it correct.

She also can't seem to, three days in, learn to "go to her mat" on cue. It has been AGONY trying to teach this...she just doesn't get it. She will look like it for like three reps...then it falls apart.

I begin to ponder brain damage possiblities.

then I was reading. Karon pryor talks about a thing one of her porpoises used to do...she'd dart in the gate, then back out again...expecting a fish. This was annoying, and frustrating...but mostly, she could not figure out WTH the dolphin was thinking...i mean, they never reinforced the darting back out, and they reinforced the going in heavily...why the heck was this happening.


Turns out, a split second timing mistake created this. The dolphin has misunderstood and thought he had it right. They corrected the timing mistake and the behavior went away.

Then my lighbulb went on. Maybe Critter wasn't stupid...but maybe my verbal marker was not conditioned with her fact I had been kind of sloppy with it...marking a half momment late because I wasn't "serious" about training this dog. Turns out Critter is the one with the program and Iam the moron. The more I thought about it the more it made sense, I was marking the pulling away form my hand, not the touch, just that half second created a pulling away behavior...she thinks the pulling away is what Iam trying to mark.

Clever dog.

Bad human. Bad.

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