13 November 2008

Training Watch

I got a new pair of glasses shortly before the US trip. Before that, Molly was able to make and hold eye contact with me for quite a while. But the glasses were a big change and she had trouble with the exercise again.

Her ability to make and hold eye contact on command and just in general while working is very important. It helps her be focused on me and it will make it easier to train several other exercises.

A few days ago, Molly was "Dog of the Day" on the levels training mailing list. As Dog of the Day and her trainer, we got a lot of encouragement for the progress we've made so far with our training and tips and ideas for continuing our work. It's really a great boost to be "Dog of the Day" because of all the support and the encouragement to talk about our personal training challenges.

Our lost watch is really what is holding us back from finished Level 3. I need watch before I can work on Finish and Heel. Of course she also needs her paw targetting, but it will do her good to work on something else for a little while.

So we've been training watch from scratch--as if she had never learned it. I'm not using a cue yet, just clicking and treating for eye contact. At first I only expected her to hold it for a second, but I build it up slowly, backing up if I go to fast. I am training in two ways.

1. Focused training sessions with treats and the clicker. I click for contact and build up how long she holds it before the click and reward with a treat. In those sessions, we got up to 12 seconds this morning.

2. Incorporating eye contact into play sessions. If Molly brings me a toy and wants me to play, she has to give and maintain eye contact before I will throw the toy. I vary how long I expect her to hold it--going both up and down to keep it interesting. Molly is very toy focused, so we are actually up to 17 seconds of eye contact when playing. I either use the clicker or make a clicking sound with my tongue to mark the end of the eye contact.

I need 30 seconds to pass L3. So once I have her consistently holding around 30 seconds in both situations, I will put the cue back in. Our cue is "watch." It doesn't sound like any of her other commands and it is easy for me to remember.

Unfortunately, spending a lot of time making and holding eye contact is actually quite straining for my eyes and tends to bother my head a little. So it isn't something I can do too much of in one day. It is great practice though and Molly can see where I am planning to throw her toy from how my eyes move when they break contact.


Anonymous said...

Well done on getting the watch back up to a good level so quickly.

I have been getting distracted by other training and have kind of lost Ziggi's watch.

Do you find that there are so many behaviours that you just get one but it is soon forgotten as you train the next?

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Molly on being dog of the day. And congratulations to your trainer for being such a good help to you that you can really enjoy your job.

Samantha ~ Holly and Zac ~ said...

Congratulations on being dog of the day Molly!

I am sure she will pick up the watch training quickly. Molly is such a clever girl. She has learnt such a lot this year. Well done to Molly. :-)

Dina said...

Well done Molly!
Dog of the Day, thats great news.

Rebecca and Molly the Border Collie said...

Thanks for the congrats everyone:

Anna: I try to refresh her commands a lot. But she has probably lost "go around", her command for distance, because it isn't something I have much use for. I also don't touch a stick very often, so that one might be a bit lost too. But her hand touch is great because I use it for focus. We work sits, downs, stands, and stays into fetch. Now I am going to use watch when playing too--so she has to give me a watch before I will throw a toy for her.