Burrito Wrangling Update # 14: Today's post is about Mila's intellectual development. She's just such a perfect-Burrito that I often forget that she's still a puppy. I've been doing the same +R training with Mila, but we are working on more things during each walk: sit while walking (mid stride), sit/stay while in the presence of someone's unruly barking backyard dog, "with me" which is my term for "heel", and "leave it". She's learning very quickly and like Murphy, is starting to look at me whenever she sees/hears a crazy dog. I bring 3 levels of treats on walks, so that she can get different rewards for different situations. For a sit, she gets her food; for a sit/stay she gets a Sojos cookie; for staying with me while a dog is near, or doing a "leave it" she gets tripe. She has also learned to read Murph and was able to calm him down mid-play. She gives him space if she detects that he's anxious. It's at the point where I trust her to read him better than I trust myself and she's only 7mo!
One thing that I found counter-intuitive and confusing with +R training was the concept of when/what you are reinforcing. So, I thought I'd share because now that I'm doing it, it's working brilliantly. If a dog is doing a "bad" behavior, (e.g., barking at something scary), the normal "balanced" training response is to say "NO" and do a collar jerk to tell the dog that the behavior is incorrect. This confuses the dog (or excites them if you are yelling), because, they don't understand the relationship between the punishment and their behavior. Instead, they *associate* the punishment with the *scary thing*! With +R, you give the dog a high value treat (whatever item will get them to stop and focus on you) whenever they are doing something "bad", and you are reinforcing the fact that they stopped and looked at you. That is, they get a reward for stopping, and start to form a positive association between treats and whatever scary event is occurring. After some practice, when the scary event happens again, their immediate response is to look at you to see if the treats are available instead of barking! +R + SCIENCE > everything Train Without Pain #burritowrangling
Cheers to Train Without Pain for the guidance. You can see the AVSAB statements here: http://avsabonline.org/resources/position-statements