Phoebe and I doing a video training session of “ Go To Mat” for our class. Follow along if you would like to see what we got right and what I could have improved on.
- When training we must always be mindful to keep overall sessions short and fun. Each separate behavior should last no more than a few minutes of training. Frequent play breaks and praise accelerates learning. Overtraining slows it down but when things are going well or even worse, not so well, overtraining is a trap we can all fall into. The total amount of video time this clip came from was slightly over 5 minutes without a play break in between. That is about 2 minutes of training on any one game too long.
- I put the mat down excitedly to increase Phoebe's arousal for the game.
- When training any game we use multiple treats and praise for the behavior and only one treat or our Break Cue to reset. Ideally we could also use multiple (3-4) Higher Value treats for the behaviour and one (1) Low Value treat for the reset to add clarity to what the desired behavior goal is. Example: On the mat, steak- steak-steak then throw (1) kibble to reset our puppy off the mat. On the mat, steak- steak-steak. and repeat. Four or five repetitions are good then we can have a good long play break and play again or move on to training something else. Because we normally only train for very short periods at a time and because we train in a manner that is fun for our puppies we can return to train any of the games again later in the day without too much fear of overtraining.
- We gradually increase our criteria during our individual training session as we work towards our end goal. Touching the mat progresses to having 4 feet on the mat, to sitting on the mat then to downing on the mat. Progressing the game appropriately adds challenge and excitement. As well by progressing the game through successive approximations, if we run into difficulty we can always go back to where our puppy was last successful then take smaller steps to move forward. We can even go back and fix something that might have been missed in our training. I consistently rush the 4 feet on the mat in my training and go straight to getting the sit and the down. It shows with all my dogs laying half on half off the mat. It only half bugs me so I live with it but when it does bug me, I know that it was me who was being sloppy in my criteria so the blame falls squarely on me and not my dogs. If I was to decide to go back and fix it, I would take it off the mat and shape it properly on a different object such as a low box or raised dog bed first. The positive is that I still rewarded the sit with one treat as she was right then I gave the rest of treats down low to encourage the down.
The shaping of Phoebes automatic down on the mat is coming along nicely, I know this because when I pause she is able to think it through and offer me the down without prompting or signal from me.
- We frequently record our training sessions then break it down to see what went well and what could have been done differently for next time. I strongly encourage you to do this as well. By doing so I bet you will see behaviours that went way better then you first thought as well as what you did or didn't do that cause your puppy to experience some confusion. Perhaps you got a quick return because your timing of the click was perfect or a slow return because you were looking at the puppy instead of the mat? I bet you will also notice that you trained longer then you thought!
Proofing Bishop on the Mat
- Whether you are a student of my class or not I hope you enjoyed following along with our training session and picked up something that could be useful for you to use in your next training session.
Click Treat, Jamie