I’ve dug the harness out of my luggage – still looking for the longer line (when you live a mostly off-leash life, you tend to lose track of your lines). We’ve been on a long walk, it’s hot (significantly warmer than at the previous place we were), and Game and I are both tired. Lazy play is just right for both of us today!
Here’s Game’s marker/arousal staircase image, with time stamps for each of the steps below.
Step 1: Consider the
00:00-00:10 Considering the cat (longer than ideal but I wanted to show you all the cat)
Step 2: Tug
00:10 Tug marker. Game responds well!
00:30 I realize I had closed the glass door and can unclip Game from the tether.
01:05 A quick look at the cat, and then Game disengages and keeps playing! Yay!
Step 3: Chase high value food
01:37 My first tossed treat cue. Game is slow to let go of the toy here! These are the things I pay attention to: does she respond to marker cues at baseline speed or below? This response is below. I may have caused it by my teasing tiny tugs on her toy right before the marker though. It is not clear whether the latency is cat related.
01:45 I remember I was going to leave the toy out, and see whether Game will gravitate towards it if she needs to sink her teeth into something after the first run down the staircase.
01:50 I was not planning on tossing the treat at an angle that would let Game see the cat easily right after eating – she does really well though, and does not get stuck.
02:13 Team work!
Step 4: Eat high value food from hand
02:16 First click for eye contact!
02:25 That look may have been at the cat (who is still under the white table) or the person walking past. I can’t tell.
02:29 This look is clearly at the cat – the person has passed already. This is okay: looking at things in the environment/pointing them out by looking is just as clickable as looking at me. This is a both/and, not an either/or paradigm.
02:34/35 Another one for looking at the cat! You just look where you need to look, Game.
02:37 I shift a little to make the different directions of looking more salient. Now, looking at me is clearly looking away from the cat, and looking at the cat is clearly looking away from me.
Step 5: Scatter
02:46/47 First scatter cue, marking eye contact.
Another round! Game is looking at the cat again. Calmly so – but she’s looking. For now, I will take this as a cue to restart the staircase.
03:32 Tug cue. Game is looking at me (she knows what’s coming), and I can mark that. If she were to continue looking at the cat, that’s what I’d mark with “Tug!”
04:27 By moving away and allowing Game to bring the tug toy back to me, I’m giving her the opportunity to restart the game. This is how I keep things cooperative.
04:40/41 That response to my “Get it” marker was perfect: that’s Game’s baseline speed, and what I want to see! As soon as I said, “Get it,” she let go of the toy.
04:45 Again, tossing into the cat corner is not what I had in mind when coming up with my training plan.
04:47 … but Game handles it well! So well, in fact, that I might want to add a sprinkle of the Give Me A Break CU game to our cat sessions!
Sidenote: this is what Give me a break looks like: the treat can eventually be put down close to a stimulus, and the dog will dismiss, like Game dismisses the police person in the video below:
04:56 Click for eye contact.
04:58 I’m moving to give Game more of a choice in terms of whether she wants to look at the cat or at me – now we are obviously in different directions.
05:11 Scatter cue for eye contact.
05:37 The cat is still there, and Game is watching again. She is not in predator mode (which may be because of the scatter … or because she isn’t used to the heat. Being hot (or cold) influences motivational states.
We start over with step 2 after video A ends.
00:00 The last part of toy play. Game went back to cat-watching after the previous scatter, and I started over at step 5.
00:08/09 You can see she’s tired. She isn’t super fast and intense, and holding the toy gently rather than hard. But keep going she wants, and I want to keep experimenting – so we keep going.
00:26/27 Realized the treats from my pocket were gone; had to get them from the counter. At this point, we are using kibble – I have gone through all the high-value treats I cut up already.
00:37 Game doesn’t mind chasing kibble – this is good!
00:58 Waiting for Game to offer eye contact …
01:11 Scatter cue for eye contact. Kibble again. Game doesn’t mind.
01:39 She starts circling here – she considers laying down for the first time!
01:43 Then she circles past the tug toy. This is a training toy, not a toy I usually leave out for her to disembowel. She can’t resist it, and asks for another round.
This is good information for me: she did not look at the cat, and then choose the toy. She was going to do step 6, then saw the toy and changed her mind. I’m going to need to adapt this approach (leaving the toy out) since this is not what I’m aiming for.
01:50 I mean it’s a good decision to bring me the toy rather than get sucked into cat watching. But watching this video back, I can see that the decision she made was not “do I stare at the cat or get the toy,” but “do I lie down or get the toy.”
We continue down the marker cue staircase again after video B ends.
In round 6, Game looked at the cat, and then channeled her cat thoughts into the toy unprompted – that is awesome and exactly what I was going for! Good girl! I’m not showing you video of this because by that time, the camera had fallen over.
There is a 7th round. Rounds 4, 5, 6 and 7 were all played with kibble rather than high-value treats. By round 7, I run out of kibble as well (I only got her portion for the day from the car, and have no refill at hand). So after the round 7 scatter, I encourage Game to follow me into the bedroom and close the door (no sightline to the cats). She is able to relax right away.
Lots to learn from this long session! Tomorrow, I’ll share the adjustments I’ll make based on what I’ve seen in this session. There is lots of room for our cat experiment to grow!