06 January 2009

Shanti - fetch training

Yesterday's brain work for Shanti was obedience retrieving (retrieving a dumbbell on cue, holding it until told to drop). I doubt she's ever done that before, because she tried a lot of different behaviors.

I started by rewarding interest for the dumbbell (my item of choice was a random, hard plastic thingie of suitable size for her jaws, probably 15 cm long). She started offering biting it quite fast, but she was more or less over the place, so I decided to add another criteria: she had to sit quietly. That proved difficult! Every time she pawed at it or stood up etc, I simply removed it. After some failing she decided to offer anything BUT sitting, and if she occasionally sat, she wouldn't even look at the dumbbell...

I waited her out, assuming she was willing to work for a while for the tasty treats in my hand, but after two solid minutes of doing everything I didn't want, I started doubting my strategy. Then, suddenly, she sat quietly, I held the dumbbell in front of her, she bit, and held hard. Suddenly...

I was just about to take a break and try to figure out some other way to get that message across...
What a lesson in not making it easier when they fail!
I sort of wish I could do the same thing with Orkan, he would benefit a lot from learning not to give up even when he fails. He has the same gut on working hard for treats for a long time, but right now I'm trying to get rid of his yelling at me, and pushing him on the criteria wouldn't make that better....

I'll keep working on that retrieving with Shanti the next days. It would be neat if she learns at least one thing in the three weeks she's here! But I must admit that I focus more on the social stuff, like food aggression. She shared a toy with Orkan the other day. That was neat!