Sunday, June 23, 2013

Dottie Utility Article Success!

Part of the problem is I didn't use to practice her at the full distance.  Somehow I just forgot the actual distance the articles are from the handler in the trial.  So while re-training, I worked up to full distance, then beyond.  I'm at about 50 feet now, while in the trial it should be less than 40, probably closer to 30.  Of course I also started with less than the 8 full set of articles in the trial.  In this video I'm at longer than full distance and a full set of articles.  She gets it correctly both times.

Being wrong in the past has made her nervous about the exercise and that makes it harder for her to do it correctly.  I used the bite wedge to create a more positive association with the exercise.  First I played with her before sending her.  Then I faded that and just had the bite wedge out and tapped my leg with it.  Then I would leave it in the car and run and go get it after doing it correctly.  Then I waited until she did both of them.  Back chaining at it's finest.  Now that we are at that point I plan to do some heeling first to again simulate the trial where you don't get in the ring and go straight to articles.  Of course I will remember the training principle of random reinforcements and not always reward after doing 2 full sets.  Gotta throw in random rewards to keep her guessing!

Today I did the articles by my carport with me again sending from far way.  I had the articles arranged in an x shape.  On the first metal she brought back the wrong one.  Boo.  Sad.  I said no and she dropped it and got the correct on and did the next 2 correctly.  I'll just keep working it and hope someday we can get 100% success day after day.  Unless something drastic changes, I think I'll enter the Santa Barbara trial in August.  If she is not having 100% success in training, then I won't enter because any little problem in training usually equals a failing performance in the ring.  If it isn't working in practice when everything is in your favor, why would you think it will magically happen for the trial? 

Even though she made a mistake today, I'm still happy with our success because for a while it wasn't getting any better.   It is always discouraging to be stagnate in your training.  The bite wedge was the key for Dottie I think! The only thing better would have been a live helper and that might have been too distracting.

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