Doberluv- a question about your methods.

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by Roxy's CD, Sep 2, 2006.

  1. Roxy's CD

    Roxy's CD New Member

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    I see a lot of your method revolves around the basis that dogs do what's in their best interest.

    My question is, is it conditioning that makes this method work?

    Ex) I'm teaching Roxy to come. Everytime she comes she gets a treat and verbal praise.

    I start phasing out the treat. Is it conditioning that keeps her coming to me?

    Or what if she decides that the verbal praise is not necessarily in her best interest?

    I've been thinking about this a lot during training, and this is a question that came to mind. What happens when I start fading out what could be the only factor on which she's deciding complying is in her best interests?
     
  2. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    Yes, dogs do what works. They became domesticated because chumming up to people worked wonders for them....LOL.

    What keeps her coming to you is operant conditioning. It's learning behavior. It's how we all learn and think. For example: You go to your car, put the key in the ignition, turn it and it won't turn over. It's always turned over before (reward) and so you try again. The only reason you try again is because it HAS worked before. If it never ever had turned over, you wouldn't turn the key in the first place. Ok...so you try again. It still won't work. You may try a few more times but eventually, you'll give up. Now, suppose you try 3 or 4 times and it won't start. On the 5th try it does. Next time you get in your car, if it won't start the first 3 or 4 times, you figure that it might on the next try because it did last time. So you try and try. On that 4th time, you might even give it all ya got because one more failure and you're probably going to go inside and forget it.

    This is the same thing with training dogs. If what they do works, they'll repeat it. Once they know the behavior....are giving you the correct response reliably, you can go to a variable reward schedule. They know they've gotten a reinforcement (yummy treat, car starting) before, so they'll keep trying. They'll try it a little different way, maybe better, tidier heel, quicker recall because they just now didn't get a treat, so they think more..."how can I get the treat?" So every few times (vary it) they get a treat. Gradually, you increase the interval between rewards. So, they don't get one and they don't get one, and they try and try. When they give it their all, give you the best....you jack pot them with the whole bag of treats. This teaches them that they need to give you that fantastic performance and then they get the reward. This last try, before they give up, when they give it their all is called an extinction burst. You want to jack pot them then.

    If you wait too long and they never get a reinforcment, that behavior will extinguish....go away. You don't want that, so you want to reinforce with a high value treat on occasion even after the behavior is learned well. Keeps them from regressing. All behavior will regress if there is nothing in it for them ever. But to a large extent, the habit which is formed in their brain that every time they come when called, it's always been a party, they tend to just do it. But you better have a party once in a while. And every time until they're 90% reliable in all kinds of locations, distractions, situations. Your motivator needs to outperform the competition.

    Lyric has a good recall. He's come when in mid chase of a deer, a squirrel. He really wanted to chase those animals, but he had gotten into the habit of obeying me. There just wasn't any question at this point.
     
  3. Roxy's CD

    Roxy's CD New Member

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    OK, thank you for explaining.

    While training, your method has been in the back of my mind when she doesn't comply. Is what I'm offering a high enough reward? Would it be in her best interests to comply?

    And whilst thinking this that question had come to mind.

    That's neat what you call the "extinction burst". I see them do it all the time! Lots of gusto, usually some barking.

    Thanks again for explaining, you made it crystal clear. :)
     
  4. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    Can you give me a specific example? What thing are you trying to get her to do? How are you setting her up in order to do it? What is the motivator you're using? Is it something she really loves? What is going on around you? Are you starting in a low distraction area? How much of the behavior are you asking for? For example: If you're asking for a stay, (I don't know where you are on this one)....how have you worked up to this point that you're working on now?

    Anyhow, give me some more details of what is going on when she doesn't comply, what you're doing to try to get her to comply, what's going on around her, has she been reinforced in some way a lot for not complying?
     
  5. Roxy's CD

    Roxy's CD New Member

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    Well, her recall on our walks can be somewhat wishy washy. So lately, what I've been doing is bringing treats with me, and the first time, I call her to "Come!", (usually she's sniffing something) she doesn't even acknoledge me, So I'll repeat it dragging it out while running backwards.

    She immediately comes. Then for the rest of the walk, I'll randomly call her to come, and she'll come full tilt to sit front.

    But, I can see it in her eyes, if one time I call her to come, and don't give her a treat. The next time, she'll hesitate, but she will come. Like, if she's really into a smell, she'll hear me and look at me, maybe another quick snif, than come. As opposed to if I had given her a treat, she would've come running!

    Sometimes, she'll even just hang around me after I've released her hoping for another treat.

    And I've been having trouble, finding something that is better than mauling guests who come into the house. She could care less for hot dogs, treats or attention. All she wants is to pester the guests and deman attention by licking them.

    I've tried leashing her, we've done it for awhile. But she's always looking for an oppurtunity for when they pass by to lunge and get a lick in. I've tried playing with her, giving her treats for good behaviour, like sitting or lying down calmly.

    But she's always just waiting. Neither playing or eating treats is comparable for her to desire to lick/pester guests.
     
  6. RD

    RD Are you dead yet?

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    What you're doing, though, is reinforcing her on a varied schedule. That actually makes the behavior much stronger and more difficult to extinguish, because they never know when they may get a reward and what they might get (when Dakota comes to me, sometimes I tell him he's a good boy and give him a pet on the head, and earlier today I gave him half of a hotdog. He never knows what to expect) and it makes them work harder to earn that reward.
    My trainer compares variable reinforcement to a slot machine. Dogs keep "playing" us because they are hoping to get that jackpot. If you won $100 on a slot machine, you'd be apt to keep trying again until you won another $100.
     
  7. Roxy's CD

    Roxy's CD New Member

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    LOL

    Good analogy RD. ROFL
     
  8. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    You know what I did with Lyric...for the longest time, I never used my cue word unless I had him on a long line or unless I was positive he was indeed coming. I would entice him, making weird, silly, playful noises, run the other way, squat down with my arms outstretched, pretend I was looking at something behind a bush or hide behind a tree, just making wooooo hoooo noises, not "come." No way. What if he didn't come, I thought. Then he finds out that he doesn't have to, that "come" means nothing. You don't want to repeat commands. So, the best way is to entice and when you dog is obviously coming, within arm's reach, say, "come" and then make a fuss over her, treats, tug games...just make it wonderful. Never bribe...that is show her the treat first. She needs to come first, then get the reward. Make sure your reward is awesome. Use less exciting treats in easy places, no distractions and use better ones for more difficult situations. Do this for a very long time. When she is coming 90% of the time by your enticing her, then you can start adding your cue word. I use "let's go" because I reserve "come" for a formal come where he must sit in front. You can do both. "Let's go" to me is having Lyric come along somewhere in my vicinity. So, decide what your commands will mean and be consistant.

    This way....by not using your command when you can't be sure you can enforce it, you're not poisoning the cue word. For a long time, you reward every single time she comes, even when she comes to you on her own accord and is just about to reach you, you can use the word, "come" and reward her. This will further associate coming to you with good things. If she starts coming to you 50 million times in a 15 minute segment, just to get the goodies, start varying the schedule. And then stop rewarding her when she comes but you haven't given her the command. That's how to undo that. But at first, it's good to make her see that coming to you is always, always a good thing. It just helps with that habit I was talking about.

    Here's something else I have always done with my dogs: We go on off leash hikes in the mountains here where I live. I carry some treats in my pocket and call them to me. (they're really reliable now this way) But to keep them on their toes, I call them, give them, have them sit around me and give them each a treat. Then I turn them loose again. I practice several times on a walk. They learn that they get a treat and the fun doesn't end. They get to go back to their rip roaring. So, if you call your dog (when she gets really good on the command) you can turn her loose again several times before going inside. And then, make sure it's pretty fun in there for a few mintues.

    Jose use to lag when it was time to get in the car after our hike. He'd be taking his own sweet time, sniffing things, peeing on things while the others were glad to be in the car because they were tired and wanted to go home. So, I'd be waiting and waiting for the slow poke. I started giving him a cookie everytime he got in the car. That cured that little problem. Now, Mr. food obsessed comes quickly and promptly to get in the car. I give them all a treat periodically for that.

    When you call her to come or entice her, make sure it's not for some horrible thing, like ending all her fun she's having or clipping her nails. Try to make coming in the house = more games for a few minutes, a treat and do the awful thing later. Then you go get her to clip her nails. Don't use your cue to come. That sort of thing....

    When she is coming 90% of the time with your cue word, then, and only then start varying the schedule of reinforcers. You give her a treat every 2 times, then 4, then 1, then 6, then 2, then 8.....skip around, making no pattern. Gradually over time, you can space them out more but continue varying the times that you reward.

    Start out in very low distractions to practice. Skip around between skills; do some sit/stays, down/stays, heel and back to a couple of recalls, then maybe a game of tug. That helps keep them from getting bored. Some dogs, like my Doberman get bored easily and too much repitition is just no good.

    Only move up to the next step in the distraction hierachy when the previous step is mastered. When she can do it well in mild distractions, go to different locations and different situations, different weather, different scenery. Dogs need practice in every situation because they don't generalize well. So, if she comes in one place, coming in another is sometimes like a completely different thing...doesn't mean the same thing to her. This goes for sit, stay and anything else.

    This is why I hate aversives, collar corrections etc because dogs get scolded for something they haven't been reinforced for enough and in enough variations.

    Set your dog up to succeed, find what motivates her the most for any given context. It's not always the same reward.

    If your dog is playing fetch and loves this game and she brings you the ball to throw again, she's not going to give a rip about a belly rub or pat, maybe not even a treat. Right now she's thinking, "throw the ball. throw the _______ball!" LOL. So, that's her reward. Throw it immediately if you're trying to teach her to retrieve. That's just an example. Use your imagination.

    Yes, it is indeed like the slot machines. LOL.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2006
  9. moxiegrl

    moxiegrl New Member

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    Great post Doberluv!!!
     
  10. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    Thanks Moxie....you mean "great" as in huge? LOL.
     
  11. Roxy's CD

    Roxy's CD New Member

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    LOL!!!

    Great as in awesome AND huge. A combination of both ;)

    So extra awesomeness! ROFL

    Roxy's offleash all the time, and she never lags. And she *always* comes as soon as she sees me grab her leash, and hold onto the snap. I don't even have to ask her to come, same with Hades.

    Thanks for all that info Doberluv. I'll try my best to only use it in a situation where I can reinforce it, but it's hard because she does come, just on her own time.
     
  12. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    That may be that she's not ready yet for a variable reward schedule and needs a reinforcer every time for a while yet. Make coming to you better than anything in the world....anything she's sniffing or engaged in. You want her (I assume) to come barrelling up to you into a sliding stop (like a quarter horse) everytime you call her. Have her come and turn her loose again to go back to what she was doing. If you want her to come on YOUR time....LOL, to your cue, go back to the beginning and cover all the steps like I wrote out. That way, my typing and tendonitis won't be for nothing. LOL.

    Then when she's coming that way almost always...like 90% of the time, go to a variable reward schedule but don't phase out the treats entirely for a long time...skip around. And even when she's been good at it for a year or two years...(lol) still remember, the behavior needs to be reinforced here and there or it will regress.
     
  13. Roxy's CD

    Roxy's CD New Member

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    Ok Doberluv!

    Don't worry your tendonitis isn't for nothing! LOL

    If I were to reward her *everytime* off leash with a yummy treat, she would come barelling towards me everytime. She's just so sneaky! If I don't give her a treat once, I can see her thinking when I call her, "Hmmm. Maybe I'll just sniff this a bit longer than see if I'm going to get a treat this time or not"

    So from now on, I'll use treats off leash for every come. :)
     
  14. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    You're not showing her the treat first, are you? You don't want to bribe her. Don't say, "cookie" or anything. And don't say, "come." Just entice her and act like a happy fool. Everytime is good, for now to give her a treat. Get her in the habit a little bit. Then, when she gets so she's barrelling toward you every time, skip one time. She'll still come to you. Then skip two times. She still won't know if she's going to get one or not, so she'll likely still come, just in case. If she doesn't, raise the value of the treat....a fresh piece of meat or cheese, hotdog piece. Then skip just one again....then maybe 3. Then back to every one for a few times, then skip, say, 5. Go slowly with changing the intervals between treats. Meanwhile, this not knowing for sure if she's going to get the treat, will actually strengthen the behavior because she'll try even harder (come quicker, faster). "Hey, how come I didn't get the treat. I better really come quick." LOL. It's just how it works.

    Remember, don't give the command if you're not absolutely, 99% positive that she'll come.

    http://www.brembs.net/operant/
     

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