The Norbert Experiment, part 13: what’s next?

I am happy to report that Game can now watch cats moving slowly or being stationary at baseline distance without getting up or getting excited. She is interested, but – just hanging out and looking, and then going back to snoozing. No matter whether the glass door is open or closed. This is a HUGE difference from baseline – here, as a reminder, that first video I took around 2 weeks ago:

Versus today!

I’m calling this a big win, and I love how fast it happened!

Just hanging out, watching a cat walk past at baseline distance!

We have walked past resting cats at about 1m distance from Game in the yard (Game on a leash and muzzled; better not to risk anything), and I can tell her to leave it and she will keep the leash loose and make a little curve to indicate that she is leaving the cat alone. I’ve walked towards a cat and recalled her from up close to resting cats (the ones who don’t mind dogs) and recalled her from them in the yard as well – again, without problem and without using chasing as a reinforcer, muzzled (just in case the cat is suicidal and tries jumping into Game’s mouth) with the leash staying loose the entire time! What a superstar!

Crazy cats and cats closer than baseline distance

While Game can’t chill in this situation yet, we can play tug when cats are close and running/hunting/playing crazy, or sitting right in front of the glass door staring in (some are really curious) – even if the glass door is open. Game and I have come up with a tug – LAT hybrid for this where she’ll look, I’ll cue tug, she’ll tug for a few seconds, I’ll cue an out and then a look, mark the look with my tug cue, tug for a few seconds again etc. Doing this a few times in a row will lead to Game not looking when I give the LAT cue, but keeping her eyes on me. This is how I know that she is ready to move on, and I can cue a (kibble) scatter.

Cat LAT tug hyprid:

If I were to stay longer …

… this is what I would build on: I would start with tug LAT and then add behaviors that are less arousing. Brief ones at first, and more as she keeps succeeding (here, success would be defined as staying engaged between “look” cues).

This is how I would get to a place of working in the presence of up-close tempting cat distractions. (Work meaning that Game has gotten her needs to look out of the way and is able to stay in the game – or the work – with me until we end.) I won’t be able to do this here because we’ll move in a few hours – but that’s what I would do if I lived here permanently. Check out Sara Brueske’s Bomb Proof Behaviors class at FDSA to learn more about where to go from a place like this! It’s a concept class that can be used for any behavior and any distraction.

Finally: more cat photos for your enjoyment as we are packing our bags to leave!

There are two more cats around here that I didn’t get a picture of – apart from these two, I believe you’ve now seen all of them in some post or other.


Things have been going well! No cats were harmed in the making of this project! When we see Norbert again, we’ll be better prepared for sharing a space – at least for a little while!

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