Lovely response. I’m now getting what I originally hoped for! And a reminder that I can really keep my criteria for this learner tight: a week in a new location max. If I don’t see tangible results by then, even if I did in my previous location – time to change something!
It is interesting that this morning, just as in last night’s video with the collar only, Game approached the kibble further than in the previous reps with the rope. And that is even though today, the environment is same old, same old: no open gates or other unexpected changes.
It is still entirely possible that she cues off the kibble as soon as she notices it. It is also possible that the rope on her collar was a contextual cue for her to expect a distraction, making her more attentive and helping her notice the kibble pile earlier.
In any case, I am getting the desired behavior – and in fact, Game approaching the pile more closely is a nice opportunity to see what happens when I delay my click. So I’m going to stick with this project for one more session to find out.
I don’t think she will go for the kibble at this point. If she did, I’d say “Leave it,” and she would leave it. What I expect is more likely to happen is that she just stands and waits for further instructions, or that she starts coming back to me without the marker cue. I’ll find out tonight!
Since Game has been approaching the pile of kibble more closely lately, I decided to shape an auto-return ir auto-stop-and-look-at-me-and-wait before ending this project. So far, I’ve marked the moment of reorientation. Now, I’ll wait to mark her when she’s started moving towards me, or duration of her stopping beahvior – whichever she gives me.
Returning to me it was! Yay, Game! I planned to just take one or two steps, but seeing the confidence in her auto return, I let her take a few more before marking. That confidence showed me she was going to complete that return, so I could let her come closer before the click without creating insecurity about what I expected.
If I wanted to work on this project more, I would mark a few steps later on her auto-return in my next session. Then, I’d lower criteria in terms of what I expect of her, but make it more difficult by not stopping as I get around the corner, but:
- Walking in place
- Taking one more step towards the pile of kibble
- Taking two more steps
I would mark the moment of reorientation each time until I was confident Game was able to reorient when I was moving rather than standing still as well. Then, I’d build the duration of the auto-return back up. I won’t be doing this in practice though, at least not right now, because I have another training project I want to dedicate more attention (and treats) to. So for now, this will be the last day in this series! 20 days – not bad at all!
Also, meet the intermittent cat!
Fun intermittent cat fact: tortoise shells cats are usually female because in order to get that color, you need a gene for black fur on the X chromosome and an orange-spot-gene on another X chromosome (they cannot be on the same X chromosome, and neither of them can be on the Y chromosome), and XX will give you a female cat. You can technically have a male tortoise shell cat, but this would be rare, so because hoofbeats and horses, this one is likely female. In order to get a male tortoise shell cat, it would have to be an XXY cat (this is not lethal, but means the male cat will be infertile. It could also be a chimera, but I don’t know how exactly this would work. Thank you, Christian Holeček, for explaining the tortoise shell thing to me again after I forgot the details the first time I asked you!
(1) Should you read it? Yes, you should.