A lot of people find it interesting to see how much work goes into training. Whether working with a service dog or a pet dog, the training is the same. Clicker training creates an eager dog, a dog who wants to be part of the process. A willing dog makes a great training partner.
Too often, I hear owners say "He knows how to do this, he's just being stubborn." In my experience, the dog isn't stubborn. He doesn't really know the behavior like you think he does. If you're confident your dog knows what you're asking, put him through the test for stimulus control. Here are the four conditions of stimulus control:
- Your dog does the behavior when asked. (Your dog goes to his kennel when you ask him.)
- Your dog doesn't do the behavior if he isn't asked. (Your dog doesn't go to his kennel if you didn't ask him.)
- Your dog doesn't do some other behavior when you ask. (Your dog doesn't sit when you ask him to kennel.)
- Your dog doesn't offer the behavior when you ask him to do something else. (Your dog doesn't kennel when you ask him to sit.)
I thought Teddy's kennel behavior was pretty good so I put it to the stimulus control test. And video-taped it. Ugh. We have a lot of work to do! Check out the link at the bottom of this post for the video. (You can see it on YouTube if it looks odd when you watch it through the blog.)
So the next time you swear your dog knows something, give him the test for stimulus control. I'll bet he doesn't really know it. That's ok. You're the teacher – get out there and work with the dog some more. We're working hard and will get all of Teddy's behaviors under stimulus control. It just takes time and training.
Laura, Lance, and Vito says
I posted my comment on your youtube video, but I wanted to repeat my question here for other readers to give their input:
Why is it ever important to achieve #2? I guess i want my dogs offering behaviors always. If i’m standing talking to somebody I want my dog thinking and maybe offering a down, or eye contact, or even going into heel position. Unless put on a stay or told to bugger off, I want the dog THINKING about what behavior can earn reinforcement, whether a treat or just a good boy.
If the dog has #1,2,&3 then they are not going to offer standing on my feet when told to finish at an obedience trial, or they’re not going to break their stay to rollover. So why is it crucial that the dog not offer something when not told to do so? I think that by letting the dog make choices that I can actually create a better behaved dog.
And on a lesser note, I just had a question about your hand touches when Teddy was wrong. Do you worry about the opportunity to touch rewarding the wrong response like in a behavior chain?
Laurie Luck says
Excellent questions! What if I was asking Teddy to retrieve the phone? Or my keys? I don’t want him guessing when I need those things. I only want my keys when I ask him. What if I want him to get me something from the fridge? I definitely don’t want him getting into the fridge whenever he wants, but only on cue. Cues matter. I want — no, need — Teddy to know that he NEVER needs to guess what I want him to do. I want him to listen to what I say. That’s all he needs to do. No guessing. Ever.