Lyra turned two years old yesterday, so it seemed fitting to post a video of our training. I took this video for a class I’ll be teaching in October, but it can serve two purposes.
Here’s a five minute clip, start to finish, of our morning training. I’m specifically working on reducing her reinforcement schedule. To do this I substitute a dumbbell retrieve (preferred exercise) about half the time I have the urge to reward with a toy (preferred motivator).
Finally, I end the session with her least favorite exercise; scent discrimination. That exercise is rewarded with a classic toy, since I want to increase her enthusiasm for the task.
At home, the focus of Lyra’s training has two overall goals – reducing or even eliminating classic reinforcers and teaching the few remaining basic behaviors that she’ll need for competition.
Away from home, the goal of Lyra’s training is developing her ability to work under environmental distraction.
Eventually, those two goals needs to merge – to compete she’ll need to be able to work away from home with a reduced or non-existent classic reward schedule.
And before we compete, I’ll need to add in those picky bits that allow for a high score in competition – polishing her accuracy and teaching Lyra the actual exercises and not just the pieces. Once she knows them, I’ll go back to the games that we are playing now and then we’ll see about entering a few shows. Optimistically, that will take place when she is three years of age.