In this part we continue to build the handler’s mechanical skills. We begin to vary the rate of reinforcement for the dog – raising it as criteria become harder, lowering it once the dog is adept at the new criterion.
Each of these steps requires more effort on the part of the dog. That means the rate of reinforcement will be lower for him. When you can see your dog eagerly performing the task without sniffing, wandering, becoming unfocused, then move on to the next step.
Whenever you start your Polite Walking training in a new location, warm-up with the steps from Part 1, then move to One Step Back, then Two Steps Back, then Three Steps Back. That will re-acquaint your dog with the shaping process for this task and get him a good rate of reinforcement that is then gradually thinned out based on his success at each step.
Be sure to stop to treat. Being able to eat a treat and keep on walking is a higher level skill. At this level, we want it to be as easy and doable for the dog as possible. Stopping to treat also means that the dog never gets enough momentum to pull ahead of you suddenly.
Step 4: One Step Back
Step 5: Two Steps Back
Step 6: Three Steps Back
Step 7: Pivot to Face Forward – practice this pivot without your dog until it is second nature. Remember good mechanical skills – treat with your left hand if your dog will be walking on your left. Deliver the treat to the spot where you want the dog’s head to be. Be smooth, clear and consistent in your treat delivery and your dog will learn to be right there, in the pocket, for every step you take.
Step 8: Alternating Single Steps Back with Pivots – pivots take some time to do. To keep the dog in the game, be sure to alternate Pivots with Single Steps Back. That will keep his reinforcement rate high with an “affordable” drop at each pivot.
Lily, the Poodle Puppy
Jack, the German Shepherd Dog
Trainer: Lynn Martin, KPA CTP
Producer and Director: Helix Fairweather, KPA CTP
Special Thanks To: Sue Ailsby, Shirley Chong, Karen Pryor
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