Reclaiming Andi - day four addition

I want to take a moment to address the problem of Andi pulling back in order to get pressure to release in an attempt to cue me to click=treat. This problem is two-fold.

One: it's fabulous that she's figured out that her actions command the click, but it's not good that she's trying to be in charge. That will definitely have to be turned around. She's trying to cue me to click/treat. Step three, which she skipped, is putting a cue to the behavior that gets the click.

I want her to 1)release her body to pressure and 1b) come forward when I put a little pressure on her poll with the lead rope.

1. My cue to her is to apply pressure.
2. She releases the pressure by lowering her head and stepping forward.
3. Click
4. Treat

The PROBLEM is that SHE applied the pressure in order to cue ME to click/treat.

Her sire would do this. One method of using the clicker is to 'extend' the trick. For example, I taught him to stand at my shoulder by click/treating when he positioned himself with his shoulder next to mine. Once he was doing this, I would take a step. In order to stay in position, he would have to take a step. (click/treat) Once he's done that, it's simple to take two or three steps (click treat) when he stays in position. You'd think you could go to ten steps or half a mile (which actually is the idea),but he would only go about 3-4 steps then bolt off and come back into position to try to get me to click/treat. (If I had fallen for that, I would essentially be treating him for bolting.- Tricky, tricky boy! Too smart for his own good sometimes.) I also wanted him to stand beside me as long as I wanted. You do this by not clicking immediately when they stand properly. You want a few seconds/minute. If I waited too long, he would circle and come back into position, clearly upset and anxious, worried he had done something wrong (since he wasn't getting the click/treat) and trying to get me to click/treat by redoing the trick.

We worked through it. He will free lunge both directions, stop, reverse on voice command, and jog at my side, over and through obstacles, and he'll even weave a pattern with or without poles on voice or hand signals.

One interesting aside is that I thought I had taught him the vocal commands left and right, but he actually learned toward and away from me, so when I'm working on his right side, I have to use right for left and left for right to get him to turn the way I want.

Because he's learned that some behaviors earn the click, he tries endlessly to please me. If he sees me standing in the window of the house and wants me to come outside and play, he'll start going through his tricks. He likes you to pull his tongue, so usually, that's the one he starts with. He'll stand at the gate and stick his tongue out. It's funny, but it can be very obnoxious as well, depending on the trick. Fortunately, the tongue tricks are mostly harmless, although he actually licked a judge at a show one time when she accidentally cued him.

So Andi is already self-tasking and experimenting with behaviors, seeking the click, which is really amazing, but in this specific case, she's already learned what could escalate into a terrible and dangerous behavior in pulling back on the rope, and it's something that will have to be dealt with.


Val said...

Staying as busy as I can while Z's gone over Spring Break, I hosted my friend's 9-yr old's BD party yesterday; 4 giggling little girls!
Of course the Burro Boyz & the Qubie-mobile were big hits, but I was proudest of Z's TWH filly Scarlet, whom I pulled out to give pony rides...Can't wait for you to meet her; she's a doll!

Becky Burkheart said...

That's awesome! I love those good minds. When will she be out and about? Is she going to be an endurance horse?

Rick said...

I love your writing, Becky Sue. First time here, but would you mind if I included you on my most favorite blog list on my page?

What a great idea you have to provide writers information about a specific topic that can be used in our books.

Becky Burkheart said...

Thank you Rick. I would be honored to be included.