I can’t believe what just happened. And of course I have no video 😦
The dogs were restless so I decided to train a little to tire their brains and help them settle down (probably not a good idea if you have a working breed, but with whippets it works just fine 🙂 ).
For Ruby the exercise was cik & cap around a cone on verbal only, no help with body or arm cues. Not that this is important to me… the main reason he can’t tell cik from cap is that he has a handler that shouts out the first word that comes to her mind, and it’s usually the wrong one 😉 I thought it would be a good exercise to make him think.
I set him up between my legs (so he wouldn’t cue off the side on which I put him) with the cone straight ahead. I got him to do cik two times. Then I asked for a cap. I got cik. I reset him, asked for a cap again… And again… And again… He gave me cik every time. Then I started saying my no reward marker “oops” to prevent him to circle the cone if I saw he was headed in the wrong direction. He turned back to me, but next time he tried to do cik again instead of cap.
I was getting a little frustrated, so after I said “oops” and he turned back I cued him with my arm which direction to circle, and he did. But this had no effect on the next repetition.
After a few more tries like that I was ready to set him up so that he would be more likely to choose cap than cik. I said, frustrated, “It’s the other side”. He looked like me like “why didn’t you just say so?” and circled in the direction of cap! I thought that was pretty neat, but will he know it on the next repetition, without me reminding him that cap is in the other direction than cik?
The answer is YES!!! He never made a mistake again! I asked for three caps, then three ciks and three caps again and he went out confidently every time and circled the cone in the correct direction.
I use the phrase “go on the other side” every day when he wraps around me with his leash, though I never explicitly trained it. Somehow he seems to have generalized it to objects as well, not just me. Intelligence of dogs never ceases to amaze me.
Photo credit: Stisnprtisn!