Monday, March 25, 2013

"ouch" duration

Percy's Red Cross
I decided to make Percy a special target for this project of standing still for veterinary procedures.  What better than a red cross?  I also introduced a new cue "ouch".  Things like this help me remember just what cue and target I've used for something when I put it aside and don't use it for a while and then need to dust it off again.  "Ouch" sounds enough like "touch" that he may not have distinguished the two but at this point, I think that's ok.  When I first introduced it, I asked for other things between the targeting- back, head down, etc and when I said "ouch", he went right for the target so he definitely knows what it means.  

Yesterday, I did some more work on duration on the target.  This time I didn't use any distractions such as moving around.  I simply started increasing the amount of time I asked him to stay at it.  I have made up a spreadsheet of the different criteria I have for this project which includes the component parts, the cues and the specific details I am looking for in each behavior.  Percy loves to play with things in his mouth and I knew one of the difficult parts would be to get him to simply stand with his nose on the target rather than playing with it, tearing it off the fence, chewing on it, etc.  I decided my criteria was that his nose had to touch where the two red lines crossed.  That way, he couldn't bite it.  We worked on that, with no clicks for touching the target unless the nose touched the specific spot.  That was successful although he showed me he can still LICK the target like that.  

In this video, he does move his nose around a bit but I have relaxed the criteria of specific nose placement while I increase the duration.  I vary the time before the click, sometimes clicking immediately, sometimes after a few seconds and once I work up to 15 seconds.  I don't want him to think this will always be a long boring process and clicking for short duration keeps him guessing and keeps the rate of reinforcement up.  I think I should make up a chart of how many seconds to do each time because I want to know what the average is and want to keep my expectations increasing regularly.  Because of my own personal dislike for this process, I tend to go easy and not ask for enough.  But there are a couple times you can see him stand still and I can see he knows not to move. Occasionally he loses contact with the target but again, I've relaxed that criteria while we work our way up in time.  On the shorter durations, I do require a full contact with that specific spot. 

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