Free Training Plan: Around

Hi Everyone,

After slacking off for two weeks while on holidays (When Hounds Fly was closed, and I also slacked off on Petey’s training) I’m back at it and yesterday I taught Petey a new behavior – “Around” – which is just to go out and go around an object, either left or right, based on how I send him out.  The whole exercise took approximately 20 minutes (of course, broken up into many short, high intensity sessions).

Here are some comments about the training plan:

1) Initially Petey has no idea what to do. We’ve been doing a lot of “go in/on” so he was just jumping on top of the bucket. That’s why I put my leg there – I was hoping he wouldn’t jump up.

2) I moved onto using “Aim for It” (described in Agility Right From the Start) – which is basically just click for action, treat for position.

Click 1 – for heading towards the object

Click 2 – for looking at the intended path

Click 3 – for moving along intended path

Click 4 – for turning head towards intended path, and then cue to mat

Subsequently, less intermediate c/t are required and very quickly, the dog understands the whole path to take as one behavior.

3) Good Agility Practices / Loopy Training

There’s no time for dead time in training! Like I mentioned in my previous post about training with high intensity, the dog is either working, or on their mat.

In clicker training, a loop is:

Cue > Behavior > Click > Consume Reinforcement > Cue > Behavior > Click > Consume Reinforcement

I use the tug toy frequently as a way to deliver the reinforcer, and transport the dog back to their mat – at which point, another loop in the training starts again.

When using food, it’s important to deliver the food in a way that the dog does not have to get frustrated to find it. Usually, my aim is pretty good, but you’ll see on the video there’s a bad bounce (2:11) and Petey has trouble finding it. Having to sniff/scan/search for food breaks the loop. This is inefficient training and can also cause superstitious behaviors to creep into your training.

When it’s time for a break, I send the dog to their mat.

4) The opposite direction: I didn’t include any video, but I started with Aim for It to teach the other direction.

5) Object Generalization: My goal for our first session was for Petey to go around a pylon. So I started with the Pylon on top of the bucket, then moved to a small paint can with the pylon, and then just the pylon. It was nice and easy.

What do you think of the training plan I used? Comment below if you have feedback!

2 Replies to “Free Training Plan: Around”

  1. I’m curious why you’d use a cone in your goal behaviour. Is it convenience or do you have a plan for its use in the future?

    I compete (very casually) in Rally, and I’d be a bit worried if I used a cone in training I’d accidentally encourage the dog to move on the opposite side of the cone than me. I really honed this behaviour in my dog using trees, garbage cans and other outdoor obstacles – I found it helped encourage enthusiasm and speed.

    1. I’m definitely doing Rally-O with Petey. There’s a trial in March that I plan to sign up for. I don’t worry about training multiple behaviors on a single item, because the cue for the behavior is “around” and I won’t be cueing “around” at a Rally trial. I have also trained Paw object, nose object, and now go around the pylon. If I put them on cue/stimulus control I don’t have to worry.

      A more extreme example is this video where the trainer played 101 things to do with a Pylon. And the dog is trialing in Rally. It shouldn’t matter, if we put behavior on stimulus control.

      In some respects, I think it will strengthen behaviors. If an object is used for multiple behaviors, the dog would learn to separate the presentation of the pylon as salient information. The important information is the verbal cue.

      Hope that helps!

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