The Norbert Experiment, part 7: from cat watching right to high-value treat tosses!

Here’s the new staricase Game qualified for in the last video I shared with you:

We now only have 5 steps, and there is no horizontal shift – vertical only!

This is going well! Go, Game!

Notes on this video:

  • Door level: glass door closed (I just hadn’t untethered Game yet; just closed it before the cat appeared).
  • Leash-status pre marker cue: tight, then loose (ideal would be loose at all times).
  • Game followed me as soon as I reached for the container with the high value treats rather than getting stuck cat-watching! Yay!
  • Number of clicks for eye contact: 3 only before the scatter. I will up this to 5 going forwards (new rule: 5 successive clicks for eye contact before the scatter, which will be for eye contact as well.)
  • I also became aware of yet another confounding factor: time of day. I can’t control what time of day Game sees cats, but this surely factors in as well. I am not going to take it into account though because I won’t be here long enough to tease out each of these variables, but want to point out that this is very much not a well controlled experiment.

Further cat-related notes:

I train more than I video. This is how I approach the sessions you’re not seeing:

  • When a cat is much further than baseline distance, stationary, and by themselves (there is only one cat), I allow Game to just watch and observe. This is now possible for her with cats at the white metal table/chairs outside!
  • When a cat is Way Too Close, I start with tug, like I used to (imagine: cat sticking their head through the open door or sitting right at the other side of the glass door staring in).
  • When a cat is just a little closer than baseline distance and I have already succeeded with the respective step at baseline distance, I may try the same step at this smaller distance. This is what today’s video is an example of. (I have already succeeded at this step at baseline distance, but did not video that one.) I call the cat “really close” in the clip, but it’s just a bit closer than baseline.
  • Otherwise, I try to just repeat the step I’m currently at a few times to make sure it’s solid. Not videoing, not paying attention to staying on screen – just paying attention to my dog.
  • I will only ever make things harder after having a good session with the glass door open. For example, after the video in this post, I am not ready to move to kibble tosses: first, I’ll want to do high value treat tosses with the glass door open.

By the way: sign-up is now open for the December term at FDSA, and I’m teaching Finding Five.

It’s a class about …

  • finding five minutes to train your animal (of any species) every day – you are welcome to continue with a previous training project we started together in a different class, or try something new. This class has been taken by dogs, cats, birds, and a Bactrian camel. This time, I believe we’ll be having a horse at Gold for the first time!
  • Time management and self care.
  • Improving your relationship with your animal.
  • Playing ridiculous games (because life does not have to be serious all the time).
  • Retreating to a virtual island in case you need a break from this holiday-infested month or the looming new year. What gets shared on the island stays on the island.

I’m also trying a different kind of “just in case you’re in the mood for it” background fun every time I run this class. This term, we’ll be having a book club.

Come, join! (Finances and time allowing, that is – if they do not, no worries whatsoever. The class will come around again, and you’ll be just as welcome in the future as you’d be today. No need for FOMO. Please put yourself first!)

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