It’s been a long road. We’re nowhere near the finish-line yet, but I feel we’re getting closer.
When it came to running contacts, Loki had always been on the mindset that faster was better and that rewards were great but running was also great so it didn’t really matter if you got ‘extra play’ (with toys) because running was play enough. This is so nice. So lovely… but not so conducive to him learning stuff while running.
I tried going slower. I tried building value for the end. I tried doing GTCG, I tried using a towel as a target… all these seemed to work for one session and just as quickly, they would mean nothing to Loki, who would rather run fast than worry about a towel.
The other night I was talking to a friend online and I asked when she started to notice her (two) BCs adjusting to hit. Silvia had actually said that Loki not making any effort to hit was very unusual at this point so I wanted to source some more information. She said at about 90cm-1m, then went on to tell me that she used raw meat and play for JPs, and a piece of kibble for rewards and obviously nothing for non-rewards.
And I thought… well, we do ALL our shaping to food, right? Later on, when they know a behaviour, we might cue it and reward it with a toy… but while they’re learning, we use food. When we’re shaping, they get either one treat if they’re close, or lots of treats and a play when they did awesome. What if, in Loki’s little BC head, he’s just having the best time because he gets to run all the time… sometimes he gets to play, sometimes he just gets to run, but it’s all part of the fun game and doesn’t really make sense. What it I made RC look more like shaping. So I did one session of GTCG with food, and almost instantly I started seeing a difference. I’m not over-exaggerating because the sessions before this had been VERY average. Ok, he’s not running at it full speed right now but I think this is fine, we’ll build to that… But of course, this could have all been a fluke… except we had another session today. As per Silvia’s instructions we are to do GTCG and then move him back 10cm at a time on the ground. I’d like to point out the very deliberate adjusting going on in this video. I suppose ideally, we want him to be adjusting earlier than this but given that he’d been showing such little understanding of his job, this is huge!
Let’s just hope it’s not a fluke!