Context C(l)ues.

When I got home for lunch today, Bailey and I worked on front vs heel position discrimination.  To say it went poorly in the beginning is an understatement.  She was not hitting either one of them.  Then I looked at how I was standing...

I've trained my dog to only go to heel position if I'm A) holding my left hand on my stomach, B) my head is turned towards her, and C) I say "get in."  If any of those components are missing, she goes to the general area, but does not line up straight.

I've trained my dog to only hit front position if I am A) looking directly at her, B) have both hands at my side, and C) I use her name first.

Someone please fix me, so I can fix my dog!  That's an issue... but when I do all of those things, she's STRAIGHT and PRETTY and GOOD.  Harumph!


Crystal said...

At least you figured out the problem! I try to be consistent in my body language, but I know I fail. I keep changing my mind about what I want.

Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

I don't get what you're trying to do. you're working on Bailey being out in front of you (but not in an actual front) and cuing her to finish or find front? why?

The only time I ask my dog to go directly to heel instead of fronting is if I'm practicing the utility exercise and in that case I do leave my left hand on my stomach. OR if I do a blatant "lure" with my shoulders and move my foot back like sometimes I do when I'm setting up for an exercise.

I want to make it as easy as possible for my dog and that mean I want my posture and arm position to easily dictate where I want the dog to be. I absolutely do not want them doing fly bys in the obedience ring.

Oh, and I guess i do call directly to heel sometimes if the dog is behind me. And then I am usually in motion and/or looking over that shoulder with my arm up.

Megan said...

My issue is that the way I cue moving from front to heel position, especially, could be interpreted as a double command (because I make a point of turning to look at her/make eye contact). That's an issue.

I've been doing "front camp" for a couple weeks now, not as intensive as I should have been, but with a better plan than I did when we did "find heel position" camp a few months ago. The purpose of front camp is to tighten up her understanding of it, so she can find it from literally anywhere. She is actively going from heel to front, stay to front, running around to front, nicely now... IF I use those additional cues that I don't want to be relying on.

I don't think I have to go back to the drawing board, but I do need to think about using a visual instead of a verbal since my hand needs to be on my stomach for her to line up straight--and that's one thing I specifically taught, and am thus okay with.

Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

still confused. so you're not asking her to find heel from all different angles too?
how is it a discrimination challenge then if she's already in a front? It seems to me that it's more of getting rid of your extra signals on your finish cue and/or she has no clue what your finish cue is in the first place. But I am still honestly confused on what you are trying to train!

Kristen said...

I LOVE your post title!

Theoretically, being able to discriminate between the two could help your overall fluency of the behaviors.

What do you want your cues to be? Are you using the "Typical changing cues" pattern (less likely to respond cue, pause, likely to repsond cue/s, mark reinforce)?

You should be jealous of Griffin's front. It's becoming a VERY solid behavior!

Jes said...

I actually prefer that my dogs not need me to stand a certain way, make a certain motion, or speak at a certain pitch. Theoretically, I should be able to shout or whisper while I have my back to them and while I'm doing something else that in no way relates to them, and they should still do it. They are intelligent enough to learn that the word means they need to do some certain action, no matter how you use it. I say theoretically because of my problem child, Raja. The only thing you need to be consistent with is the actual command. And getting there will simply take time and practice. You don't need to make it as easy as possible for them. I try my hardest to CHALLENGE them.

Megan said...

I want my cues to simply be verbal or signal. I don't want my body position to play into it, with the exception of heeling with my hand on my stomach. I've obviously been bad at really driving home this concept to my dog. That's what I was posting about-the realization... And the impact that has.

Jes said...

I read my reply, and I realized it may sound a bit harsh. I was more replying to Laura, Lance, and Vito's comments. Megan, it sounds like you are aware of the things you want to change, and that's half the battle. Good luck!

Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

Jess, it's not that I don't want my dogs fully understanding a verbal only cue without any help from my body. It's just that when I'm competing in obedience I want there to be no doubt in the dogs mind what I just cued. If he somehow misses what verbal cue I just gave (or 2nd guesses himself), my body language should give him the answer. So yes I train fronts/finishes from all angles, while I'm in a chair, with treats around, and whatever I think of but my hand down or up supports what I am saying.

Therefore while I do train for things harder then I ever see in the ring, I am not going to use my body cues as proofs against what my verbal cues are saying. The same as in agility I might train for verbal only discrimination but I am not going to have my physical cues go against what my verbals are saying as that can be very very bad down the road.

Anyway Megan, how has your challenge been going with your realization of what YOU want?