17 June 2008

Item Recognition and Watch

I'd spent the past few days training things that have nothing to do with the levels. I've been doing pretty poorly mobility-wise Sunday and Monday, so I decided it was time to start teaching Molly to identify the phone by name. We'd originally talked about getting her her own cordless phone, but instead we decided to take the one handset of the cordless we have and make it her phone. It is a little damaged on the screen from an accident anyway and this phone is several years old now.

So I locked the keyboard on the phone so Molly can't make outgoing calls by accident
and put it into an old cell phone cover to protect it from drool. They aren't the sturdiest cordless phones in the world, but they're pretty good and the cover will help. It also makes it easier for Molly to carry.

For now we are just doing a lot of takes and gives trying to associate "phone" with it. She is good at taking anyway, so will complete the behavior, but we want her to begin associating "phone" (which sounds the same in Danish as well) with the right item. We trained several times Sunday and Monday and even tried a few times with two items down on the floor. She retrieved correctly about 75% of the time, so that is a good sign of progress.

Once she is starting to know what to take when we say "phone," we will start teaching her to find it and retrieve it over longer distances. My ultimate goal is for her to be able to go find the phone for me if I end up stuck somewhere. We're going to need to find a place to try to keep that phone most of the time that is at Molly-height and fortunately it holds a charge a long time, so that helps too. DH and I both want to feel confident that if I fall or something and am home alone that I have some possibility of getting outside help. It would also be good even when DH is just outside, because Molly can't get him there, but he can take his mobile phone with him.

Today I got back to working a bit on a Level 2 behavior called "Watch." The point of it is for the dog to be able to make and maintain eye contact with its handler on command. Molly has worked some on this before, so today I had her holding eye contact consistently for 4-6 seconds and was able to start cuing it. I need to have her doing 10 seconds on cue to pass the behavior. With DH home from work with a migraine and moving around some of the day, she was working with distractions, which does make it a lot harder. So I'm looking forward to see what I get with good treats on a quieter day.

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