Clicker Training OG - Question

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Postby furever_pit » December 23rd, 2010, 7:47 pm

I have started the foundation work for the Object Guard with both my boys, though my question only pertains to one of them.

Basic Overview of the Exercise:
The dog must guard a basket from the decoy's 3 attempts to steal/displace the basket. Dog should bite the decoy as close to the basket as you can keep your dog and must then release the decoy when he takes a step back. Dog must return to the basket after outing off of the decoy and go back into a guard. Handler is not present.

My plan is to teach the OG by starting with a regular place command. The foundation is going to be built using clicker training. Right now I am using part of a cereal box for this exercise.

Anyway, my question pertains to Cairo. He is a very mouth oriented dog and much of the time that he goes to this cardboard piece he puts his mouth on it, bites it, moves it, etc. I stopped the session because I wasn't 100% sure how I should treat this. Should I click/reward for him mouthing the place marker now and extinguish that particular behavior later? That way he would be getting click/reward with any part of him touching the cardboard. OR should I only click/reward for non-destructive ways of touching the box? If I approach it in the latter method, should I go ahead and give him a negative marker for mouthing the place marker?

My concern is that in a trial he may get stressed, over-excited, etc and decide to decimate the basket. I am wondering if the click/reward for him putting his mouth on the place marker now will make that more likely to be a default behavior?

I am interested to hear y'all's thoughts. Thanks.
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Postby Hundilein » December 23rd, 2010, 9:21 pm

You know I don't do any sort of protection sports, but I have taught targeting and place cues to lots of dogs. When I first started transitioning Renee to a flat target (plastic lid in my case) from a hand target, she would get excited and bite at the target. What I did to extinguish that is just withhold the click and treat if she bit the target and only clicked and treated for nose touches. After a couple of tries she stopped to think and started touching the target more carefully without her teeth. She was still enthusiastic, but just didn't use her teeth.

When I'm teaching a place cue in my classes, I occasionally have a dog in class who wants to eat the mat rather than laying on it. In most cases, the owners are not clicking soon enough (not saying that's your problem, your timing is probably better than a lot of my students' ;) ). I would probably try to stop the mouthing behavior from the beginning, but I wouldn't use a negative marker. I generally teach place by shaping it, so I'd just not click for mouthing, and go back to clicking more for earlier steps like moving towards the mat, and click before the dog starts to mouth, even if it's clicking as the dog's mouth is moving towards the mat. It usually only takes a few earlier clicks for the dog to realize that he doesn't have to mouth the mat and that mouthing won't get clicked. Once the mouthing decreases, then I'd build in other criteria (duration, distance, distractions, etc).
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Postby TheRedQueen » December 23rd, 2010, 10:56 pm

Yup, what Sarah said...;)
"I don't have any idea if my dogs respect me or not, but they're greedy and I have their stuff." -- Patty Ruzzo

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Postby mnp13 » December 23rd, 2010, 11:51 pm

He doesn't know what you want, so punishing him is a little early.

I would definately not teach one behavior and then try to extinguish it later. In my opinion, you're right, under stress he will likely default back to it.
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » December 24th, 2010, 7:28 am

Could you teach him the OG using something weird that he won't enjoy chewing on? Maybe once he understands it you could more easily transition to something else and he'll know he's supposed to guard it, not nibble on it.
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Postby furever_pit » December 24th, 2010, 10:24 am

Ah cool. I would not have thought to break the behavior down further and click before he bites the place marker. Thanks!

Liz- if only it were that easy. Lol
Cairo will bite anything, doesn't matter what it is. He is a dog who receives a lot of satisfaction simply from having something in his mouth. This makes him a lot of fun in some ways like the dog will retrieve anything and I can reward him with random objects like a metal pipe if I want to. But it also presents it's own challenges like with teaching this behavior and the fact that I believe it plays into his possessive nature.
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Postby TheRedQueen » December 24th, 2010, 5:29 pm

furever_pit wrote:Ah cool. I would not have thought to break the behavior down further and click before he bites the place marker. Thanks!

Liz- if only it were that easy. Lol
Cairo will bite anything, doesn't matter what it is. He is a dog who receives a lot of satisfaction simply from having something in his mouth. This makes him a lot of fun in some ways like the dog will retrieve anything and I can reward him with random objects like a metal pipe if I want to. But it also presents it's own challenges like with teaching this behavior and the fact that I believe it plays into his possessive nature.


My dogs are all very oral because they are trained to retrieve and tug...so they'll pick up anything. I agree with Sarah...click for the absence of mouthing at first...don't try and get rid of the behavior later.
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Postby furever_pit » December 24th, 2010, 10:01 pm

I worked on this exercise with Cairo again tonight. I started by click/rewarding when Cairo moved toward the place marker but before he could put his teeth on it. This worked a few times. Then Cairo decided to start ignoring the click in favor of biting the cardboard piece. After that I started click/rewarding the second he just looked at the cardboard piece and we went from there. Over all, there was a slight improvement in that he wasn't using his mouth as much and he was not as overzealous about it as he has been in the past.

Oh, and just cause I love this picture. Here is Cairo at 7 weeks on his first day home, retrieving my keys. (Back when he was little and fluffy and cute. haha.)

Image
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Postby dlynne1123 » January 7th, 2011, 6:59 pm

furever_pit wrote:Ah cool. I would not have thought to break the behavior down further and click before he bites the place marker. Thanks!

Liz- if only it were that easy. Lol
Cairo will bite anything, doesn't matter what it is. He is a dog who receives a lot of satisfaction simply from having something in his mouth. This makes him a lot of fun in some ways like the dog will retrieve anything and I can reward him with random objects like a metal pipe if I want to. But it also presents it's own challenges like with teaching this behavior and the fact that I believe it plays into his possessive nature.


Panser chews on the 'mat', exuberantly pounces on boxes or scent game items, and eventually destroys anything we are targeting if I don't click to calm first. Maybe try some 'click to calm' exercises before starting any guarding. It helps Panser focus on the exercise b/c she thinks everything is tuggable, chewable or edible. I mean everything! One of the reasons our bite inhibition has been such a tough subject. Its getting much better after some of these exercises in the book and we can now use the tug as a reward in some classes again, without me or someone bleeding.
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Postby furever_pit » January 7th, 2011, 8:57 pm

I only did a quickie google search on the click to calm thing because I have a surprise birthday party I need to get to before my friend gets off of work. The results that pulled up were all reviews of the book and didn't really have the meat of the subject in the information.

Can you explain the method to me a little bit?
I take it it is just clicking for calm behaviors but some more info would be helpful.
Remember, this is not a calm dog by any stretch of the imagination.
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Postby dlynne1123 » January 7th, 2011, 9:51 pm

Yes, it is clicking for calm behavior. And keep the reward a bit calmer than usual too. Do you have Control Unleashed? It goes thru some great techniques to try for over anxious, overly driven, and excitable dogs.

Working on focus, building drive to work for you, and some cool tricks to keep your dog more interested in you than other things.

With panser I click and rewarded before we got to shaping first. Click and reward while laying calmly in the living room. I practically had a clicker in my pocket for a few weeks b/c shes not normally calm at all. I had to really wait out the moments. Now she knows she needs to offer a calming signal before we start a new lesson. We've also worked on default positions to offer when ready. Rather than the crazy nipping and lunging, she has to be in a down (not just any down either, a relaxed position)

It does take some working on it at first, but you can get them offering this in the middle of an agility class or crazy weight pull class with other dogs screaching, and she'll down comfortable, patiently waiting her turn. We still need lots of work, dont' get me wrong, shes far from outing easily, but its much easier and I'm less worried it'll be some kids hands next time. Maybe just mine! We have associations now too, as in she can't play tug of war with other people, she will look at them anxious while they wave a toy, but she minds it now. After a while she calms down, and I offer the tug game.

In an easy review however, click for a comfortable, calm behavior, and reward it with the ball. Its like practicing the switch, and turning it on and off. Or reward with the tug or food. Whichever works. Panser now knows that calmness, and being easy for amounts of time, allows her to be crazy for a few seconds at the end. But the crazy should be with you, not the object, to avoid confusion. Kinda like working obedience to get the bite. There needs to be some form of control before you allow drive to overbear. You're marking behaviors you'll use anywhere. Once calm, they hear, and communicate better, and it allows focus. And the craziness isn't the toy or the object, but you! This should help shape different offerings down the road.

Its been a crazy day and I"m babbling right now but I'll try to sum more of it up for you in the morning. Think of all the body signals your dog gives, blinking, settling, one hip to another, etc. Once you see what is calm in your dog, begin shaping around that. Once you have a routine, have him offer a calming exercise before each lesson. Only a brief one.
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Panser on a Roll - APBT (American Bully?)
Gretchen - the red headed cat that thinks shes a dog
Prudence - the new cat on the block to put the dogs in their place!
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Postby dlynne1123 » January 7th, 2011, 9:59 pm

i.e. before scent work, I have panser wait outside the gate until she downs without me saying. When shes in a state I'm happy with, just cocked her hip and setting her head down, I quietly say 'find it' and she's off like a bat to find her scent. It used to take a half hour to calm her before we could even get enough focus to start the game! I also bring a mat sometimes that allows her to have a tool, showing her, its calm time. In between sessions, only minutes, she downs on the mat while another dog works the course. Its hopefully teaching her some self control, and helping her be conditioned around other dogs and events.

I used to have the box in front of her, but she didn't get rewarded for breaking it down, she got rewarded for lying there waiting for a command. Like I had to wait for her to get bored before I moved on. Now we graduate to being rewarded for 'touching' the right box, not tackling it. I guess its similar to the other suggestions too, by taking it back a step and rewarding for less enthusiasm first! Then shaping the calmer, more focused dog. You may want to keep the high drive reward out of it too, until the very end. Just to keep the energy lower. And work your way back up.

It has made panser focus much quicker before each class or environment (still crazy) but its helping a lot. It has made a calmer 'out' and a calmer scent work. Also, applied to other dogs and crazy kiddos, she relaxes much sooner now.
Ryder - Rescue APBT
Panser on a Roll - APBT (American Bully?)
Gretchen - the red headed cat that thinks shes a dog
Prudence - the new cat on the block to put the dogs in their place!
Punchlines Better Than Lojac - APBT (RIP)
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Postby dlynne1123 » January 7th, 2011, 10:11 pm

Some goals of the click to calm are:
have your dog perform canine calming signals, instead of aggressive displays, on cue
Have your dog turn and give you eye contact whenever another dog approaches, or you tighten on the leash Use your own body language when under stress as a cue for your dog to remain calm
Teach your dog to be handled by collar and body without panicking.


So, in a little guy, like with bird dogs, you are training in everyday actions first. Like whistle training to mark a behavior, you are using a click to mark an action. Once established, you apply what you've shaped to other exercises. The establishment of it, does take patience and time.

Panser is crazy in the living room. Over a day, I clicked every time she went to her bed to lay down. I removed the bed, and clicked every time she came to me and laid down. I clicked and treated so much that she was glued to her bed, then glued to me. Almost as if to say, what next!? This the focus that helps keep a crazy dog on earth when teaching new things.
It is helpful when your dog is dealing with stressful things down the road, like a decoy on the field, but you have to be still. The typical malinois spinning, and a calm down or out even with other decoys moving around. Its a great tool for any dog, let alone 'working dogs' that are exposed to high energy sports.


The books that helped us were 'click to calm' and 'control unleashed'

Both applied some cool tricks to shape your dog positively. If I do bite work with my next puppy, I'm starting out with this stuff first!
Ryder - Rescue APBT
Panser on a Roll - APBT (American Bully?)
Gretchen - the red headed cat that thinks shes a dog
Prudence - the new cat on the block to put the dogs in their place!
Punchlines Better Than Lojac - APBT (RIP)
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Postby furever_pit » January 8th, 2011, 6:42 pm

Thank you for taking the time to type that out for me. :D
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