Distractions as cues, day 4 – upwards and onwards to location #2!

Session 1, breakfast at location 2:

We’re at step 4 now:

We want to only increase one criterion at a time rather than several criteria at once. We also know that dogs don’t generalize well – so we are going to need to train this behavior in several locations, and with all kinds of different food distractions (in our example). In the training phase, you will only either change the food distraction, and keep the location the same, or change the location, and keep the food distraction the same. In the example videos I’m going to show you, I’ll use the same food distraction (kibble), and show you how to get to the goal behavior (the distraction becomes a recall cue) in two locations. You will want to train this in more than just two locations (3-10, depending on your dog, should get you location generalization), and you’ll want to use more than one food distraction (again, 3-10, depending on your dog, should get you the desired results). I am guesstimating that most dogs will need around five kinds of food in five different locations to generalize.

This is our first session in our second location. I keep the distraction (kibble) the same, but change the location. The reason I’m leaving the yellow bag next to my pile of kibble is to further ensure Game is going to notice the distraction. Why is this important? Remember we are using a cue transfer process here: the new cue followed by the old cue. The new cue is a visual/olfactory cue: a food distraction. The old cue is the recall cue. Eventually, the new cue (the food distraction) will become a reliable predictor for the old cue (the recall), and end up serving as a recall cue itself.

Here, the reinforcers I have on my body are the same value as the distraction again (kibble). That’s no problem for my recall cue because I know Game’s recall cue is excellent.

I am not heeding my own advice from our last session, and am still sticking marker cue interruptions into this session rather than working on them separately. I’ve learned not to use the click while Game is eating for now, especially when I only have kibble – but I can still do “Get it”s. Well … you’ll see Game take her time to chase the treat, and me explain that “Get it” is not up to my standards out here anymore, either. I want these marker cues to be really sharp: Game should stop eating and look at my hand to see where I’m going to toss the treat as soon as she hears the cue, not only after she sees it flying through the air. Chrissi, repeat note to self: work on this separately, and really dedicate time to it! Working on it separately is going to ensure I’m giving my marker cue behaviors the attention they deserve, and really thinking about how to set up the session so both Game and I will be successful.

You’ll see me also test Game’s “Leave it” in the middle of this session (00:15). It’s sharp as ever, and I reward it with a click and treat from my hand. This click is easy for Game because there is no food right in front of her nose that I’m clicking her away from!

Once Game is searching for her last two or three pieces of kibble, you’ll see me use another marker cue (simply because I happen to still have part of her breakfast in my pocket) you haven’t seen me use in this series yet: “Treats,” which is my marker for a treat scatter (01:11).

Session 2, dinner at location 2:

I’m using a chunk of hotdog for my recall click here, just to start getting Game’s hopes for post-click hotdogs back up. Then, I “okay” her to release to the kibble, and let her finish dinner in peace.

Wanna work on this or similar behaviors with your own dog? Join me in Out and About at Fenzi Dog Sports Academy!

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