Toothpicks in My Eyes

That’s how I feel as a trainer sometimes.  I have to put toothpicks in my eyes, like a cartoon character, so I don’t blink and miss something.  It’s those moments that you blink that you could miss exactly what you wanted to see.

Seeing the animal’s behavior, what is actually happening as you train, is a skill that comes with practice.  I had a change of how I looked at behavior this summer. That led to tonight’s training session.  Here is a video of what I was working on and why:

The first training session went well, and I got to reward.  The next training session I got to break off the training a couple of times for a broken stay and a failure to set up.  Here is how the last training session went.  I wanted a pressure exercise (articles with all the steward movement), then a little less pressure, (signals), and then a pressure release exercise (DJ, her favorite).  Here is how it went:

I liked the way this session was going, I like that she stayed up the whole time, even with the steward making a lot of movement.   I think several sessions of this, maybe even all the way up to a trial in a few weeks is what I will do.  I want to see that first 4 or 5 minute unit stay strong all the way through, and look just like the last 4 or 5 minute unit of behavior.  When you get nice steady behavior that looks the same through your whole routine, that is when you know you are starting to get fluency to them.

Think about the quality of the behavior you are training next time you go and
train.  Do you need toothpicks?

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