Reply To: Curt Leitz & Mo

Alana McGee

Hi Curt.

Love your use of cue word. It always adds fun to the story of hunting and training, especially when talking to folks you are out with in the field.

As for withholding: You are correct that at some point that will be a tactic you use to solicit a more solid and precise alert. What you are doing right now is shaping. Eventually you will increase your desired criteria for any shaped behavior (in baby steps, gradually). Initially any kind of paw or slap to the box will receive a reward. Then, ideally you’ll only start to reward when he actually hits the box (at first you’ll reward all hits to the actual box and 50% of those not right on the box but pretty darn close. He is a puppy after all- coordination is tough! Then you’ll reward every time he hits the box while still allowing a 20% margin for error- he doesn’t have to be exact all the time- just 80%… and it will continue narrowing down in this fashion).

Being that Mo is a young puppy we wouldn’t have that be a criteria you focus on with the most intensity. That will come organically over time for the most part. Association of positivity and reward with the target source is paramount for pups. Fun experiences. Short sessions. Keep it extremely fun and short. Learning happens in the latent periods between training as well.

However, we say be opportunistic! If Mo happens to paw or offer another desired alert at the box where the target is hid, Jackpot! “Wow Mo, what a Fabulous smart puppy you are!” Eventually Mo will realize he gets dramatically increased rewards for certain behaviors. You are naturally shaping this way, and this behavior or hitting the box with increase in frequency. Your enthusiasm will also likely be increased in this scenario and he will pick up on that as well.

Right now rewarding the additional paw to the box is perfect. Likely that will become the dominant behavior before you know it and you won’t have to hold out for increased criteria in that sense.

Your video:

What a tiny little fellow! So cute. Fabulous you have him on a harness already. That is really great to get him used to working on it from a young age so he won’t have aversions to it. Do watch the pressure on your lead so you are not arresting his forward movement. You do a good job holding it up, but just be mindful of that. He is a little little guy right now and pressure can easily prevent him or cause him to make a decision away from odor. Nice pass around your back at 0:07.

Your timing is good Curt, and GREAT on going back in and rewarding again when he knocks the container over. For puppies (as it is for any dog) any time he is near or indicates in any way right now on odor, acknowledge and reward if possible. Even if it is in your pocket. He would not be wrong! Truffles & mushrooms in your case are found in many places, and again, if he finds them in your garden or your pocket… (right now) it’s the same to him!

We are curious to see how you exit out of the set ups. Show us one of those next time if you can. It is okay to lure away, and to use a thrown treat away from the source as a means of a “re-set”.

He is doing SUCH a good job checking the boxes linearly. On the hide at 0:29 we actually would have rewarded that first pass. Right now solidifying odor association is paramount. You’ll run into many scenarios in your future where you’ll have ample opportunity for him to walk past cold targets and build confidence.

Eventually, as we said, you will withhold until you get your desired behavior, but because of his age and lack of reward histories (because he’s still a baby!) we want to build confidence in correctly identifying odor. We would say don’t start that just yet. Focus more instead on solidifying the positive experience.

Great at 0:36 you allow him to explore and check out other things. Again be careful not to apply pressure to drag him away. Lure if you’d like to get him out of that area to reset. Check out the BEST OF FORUM with Lois & Monza and their week 1 video and you will see a great example of this “re-set”.

1:19 we like how you take a minute to give Mo some well deserved love for being such an awesome and smart little pup! You also are recognizing it, but his default alert right now is a very clear to look to you. He is developing that paw alert, but keep this in mind for the future- it may become a default in more complex and stressful situations or complex environments when transitioning.

It looks really good you two!

  • This reply was modified 8 years, 11 months ago by Alana McGee.