Thursday, September 29, 2011

Distance Work - The Send

September 24, 2011.  I modified yesterday's course and made it into a simple race track.

I tried handling Belle from behind line L1.  But once again, she ran much slower moving away from me than when coming toward me.  When I ran Dusty, I used L2 as my handler path because my goal with him is to eliminate head checking.  Since that went so smoothly with Dusty (relatively speaking), I tried it with Belle.  She was faster moving away from me when I worked along the red line, but still not as fast as when coming toward me.  What to do?

I decided to go back to square one for the send.  I set up a traffic cone and tried using treats to reinforce movement away from me around the cone.  There were a couple of problems with this approach.
  • My timing of the click wasn't consistent enough to let Belle know what I really wanted, i.e., a fast send to the cone.
  • In order to receive her reward, Belle had to return to me.  Not the best placement of a reinforcer for the behavior I wanted to work on.  (Note:  The treat could be tossed indoors to the appropriate spot to reward the behavior.  On grass, it's not really an option without a food tube.)
  • On some of the sends, Belle moves at a pretty nice speed, but the return is always much faster.  You can see her digging in after she makes the turn around the cone.
I finally brought out Belle's favorite toy, a Jolly Ball, and used it to reward the send behavior at a distance.  Since I was no longer going for a send and return, I substituted a hoop for the cone.  Then I added a second hoop, and finally ended the session with a send through multiple hoops to a distant tunnel.

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