And Boogie’s ears go back!

June 14, 2010 at 8:01 am 1 comment

Today was our second session with  Irith as decoy – walking up to my porch, looking at and talking to Boogie.

To recap, when Boogie is triggered and over-threshold, he stiffens and stares intensely. He becomes fixated on the person/dog and it takes him a while to loosen up and acknowledge my existence. We had some problems with the last session (2 weeks ago) because we raised the criteria too soon and Irith was too confrontational. Boogie also often got stuck in “staring” mode and it took him longer to offer any sort of calming signal…

Today, we kept things very easy, and started with some Classical Conditioning by feeding Boogie treats each time that Irith looked at him. (No treats when Irith wasn’t looking at him)

The exercise sort of turned into a Look At That exercise where Boogie would look at Irith then immediately turn back towards me. (“OK, where’s my treat, mom?”)

Sarah and Irith wanted to encourage more calming signals from Boogie in addition to head turns, so we used more of  the BAT protocol.

Boogie knew the game. He has done this many times.

He looked at Irith (stiff, staring, ears up) then turned towards me and waited for the reward. Today however, there was no instant reward.

So he looked at Irith again, and then he looked at me and blinked and blinked like there was no tomorrow. When Boogie looked at Irith, licked his lips and dropped his ears back, I marked YES! and led him away into the apartment (= functional reward) and gave him his treat. Good Boy, Boogie!

It was really cool to see Boogie getting it. He started offering even more lick lips and ears back, prior to checking with me. He was so cute. He understood what he was supposed to do. Sometimes Boogie even pretended that Irith wasn’t there and walked back into the apartment towards me.

Sarah says that if Boogie consciously ignores someone on our walks, I need to reinforce this behavior (by leading him away from them). It is Boogie’s way of saying he doesn’t want any trouble with this person.

After this morning’s session, I took Boogie upstairs to see Wes.

As soon as Boogie saw Wes, he dropped his ears back as he always does with Wes. But instead of running forwards towards Wes, he turned towards ME. I thought that was pretty funny. I gave him a treat, of course.

The challenge: Help Boogie retain what he has learned by getting him away as quickly as possible from idiots and strange dogs so that he doesn’t regress.

Sarah: Start watching his choices. These new behaviors need to work for him in order to get stronger. If you stand there too long and Boogie decides that his nice head turn, lip lick, ears back hasn’t worked, that’s when he might go back to lunging.

P.S. Haven’t we come such a long way since our very first Clicker Training session? (See:  Positive Reinforcement Training 101) I am very proud of Boogie and thank you again, Sarah and Irith!

*** EDIT TO ADD***

Just found an excellent summary of the BAT training technique via #dogtalk on Twitter.

Here is the transcript of the chat:

Grisha Stewart explains BAT very clearly. These are my favorite bits:

BAT uses FUNCTIONAL REWARDS – meaning that they learn what behavior functions/works for them to get what they want. …here’s an analogy: What comforts the driver’s ed instructor in a car with a teenager – the paycheck or the fact that s/he has her own set of brakes?

BAT teaches ways to get what they want in that moment. What they want in the moment is space, not food.

I like BAT because it doesn’t create stillness, it creates a dog that can move about and handle (vs. only avoid) social situations.

I think BAT has a desensitization effect on the humans, actually. They also experience successful approaches to the trigger.

Visual folks – there’s a cartoon of BAT here: <– by Yours Truly. I think this chat has inspired me to create another one!

Entry filed under: BAT sessions, Training.

Boogie training update & links Training Homework RECAP, Boogie’s new toy

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Grisha Stewart  |  June 23, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    As ever, great to read. I like the two drawings of Boogie. Looking forward to the next illustration!


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