My friends have a handsome young Rottweiler called Beau. He’s a soppy, cuddly chap who has grown into the massive dog he was always going to become. He doesn’t know his own strength and is therefore in the midst of some intensive, reward-based training with dog treats. It’s going swimmingly well – except for the problem of co-ordinating giving the treat with giving the command.
The idea is that you give the dog treats immediately after the dog has done what you ask (reinforcement). How can something that sounds so simple be so tricky? It’s hard! I still find myself so happy that Ted is on his way to doing what I want him to do, that I slip him the treat before he has completed the whole task. I don’t even realise I am doing it – although I am a whole lot more aware of it since Kevin-the-Trainer pointed it out.
It seems Ted’s training is fraught with my slip-ups. I’ve been trying to stop Teddy’s feisty tendencies with a healthy dose of distraction. I bring out a bit of carrot as soon as I see the trigger (which in Teddy’s case is another feisty pup) approach and say ‘watch me’. It has been working well. Except this morning, as I was holding the carrot-y dog treats aloft, I heard myself not saying ‘watch me’, but saying ‘Good boy. Well done. Aren’t you clever?’ etc, etc (and there were plenty of etceteras). Completely confusing for Ted. It can’t be a coincidence that today this Miniature Schnauzer’s attention was less than focused. When I woke up to what I was doing I nipped it in the bud, but it did remind me that it’s clearly not just Teddy who needs more, much more, endless, repetitive training.