Raising Litter Mates



I enjoy teaching Kratos and Taro new commands. I have been occupied with BrainyCakes lately and I hate to admit that I have been slacking in teaching them something new each month.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013
A Training Experiment

I am a strong believer in positive reinforcement training - with treats/food. I have taught the litter mates all their commands/tricks using this method and it works well.

I wanted to teach the dogs how to "bow" and I couldn't figure out how I was going to "teach" that behaviour, more so, that particular action. I was at a loss of ideas, so I decided instead of teaching them, I would let them teach themselves.

I observed that every morning (or after a long rest/nap) the dog would stretch - the exact action I wanted to teach them for "bow". I decided to reward that action EVERY time I saw them do it. No words were spoken, simply a treat, a BrainyCakes Treat of course :)
At first, you could see that they were confused. Getting treats for waking up and stretching became more familiar after a few days. Close to a week later, I began using the word "bow" - I soon learned that often times they would get confused and do a "down". This wasn't going to work. I went back to the original no words, just rewards for stretching while I thought of another idea.. I wasn't giving up that easily.

I started to use the phrase "good morning" as a trigger to wake up. Of course, as they woke they stretched and they received praise and reward. This went on for another few days and Kratos soon figured out that "good morning" meant stretch and treats. Guess what!? He taught himself to "bow". I upped the ante a little, I used a much greater reward when he performed it immediately, outside, randomly throughout the day. Dehydrated Chicken Hearts was his reward now!

This particular way of training took a lot longer (I wonder if there is a name for this type of training) BUT the end result is a "bow" and I am more than happy! With lots of patience, consistency and positive reinforcement Kratos will perform a "bow" when somebody says "MORNING" (cheerful, energetic voice).

Wondering about Taro? Well, he is getting it slowly. Surprisingly, he took a little longer to figure this out. It seems that he learns better when he is "taught" an action to repeat. That's okay, he is now getting better at performing "MORNING" any time of the day.. he didn't pick it up as quickly as Kratos and we work on it daily!

I hope to have a video clip of them when they become synchronized :)

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