After having spent a fun- and fact-filled three-day weekend at the ClickerExpo, I’m now back home and ready to work with everyone again. Atty and I are still working on trailering skills and I still have to work on Sophie’s toenails and have a new vision to try out.
I mentioned my idea regarding pill pockets to Kathy Sdao and she agreed with me that that is why pill pockets don’t work over time – the appetitive comes first but is spoiled by the aversive coming next. However, she also challenged me to train the difficult cat to accept taking medications! Yikes! I’ll be attempting that carefully. This is not a cat to be trifled with!
Moving on to what Atty and I have done the last two days is this: basically repeats of the previous sessions, but with some noteworthy developments.
Yesterday, after considerable thought, I decided that I really needed to up the ante regarding reinforcers for the tree-targeting activity. Knowing about behavioral economics, I know that I need to match Atty’s output of effort with a reinforcer that equals that in saliency – sort of like overtime pay. I’ve used more Alam cubes to try to match that physical output of energy when he has to move more. But it didn’t seem to me that he thought it was enough. So I changed to feeding Stud Muffins broken into pieces. The pieces then extends the period of reinforcement which also adds value to the process.
This change had the effect of making going to the tree target very HOT! It’s his new “trick of the week”. 🙂 He even offered to go to the pedestal which was about 20 feet away but chose instead to go the tree target that was about 25-30 feet away. That was too fun! We did some more practice of that then and skipped working with the barrel.
Today it was raining a bit and I know that rain on the roof of the trailer is a trigger for Atticus. It wasn’t raining really hard, but just hard enough that it made noise on the roof.
First, though, Atty needed to try to find grass. That gave us a chance to practice “head up” from grass and reward/reinforce with Alam cubes. I just love how this works. You wait until they bring their head up out of the grass, click, and treat, using several treats one at a time. Add in a few easy behaviors, such as hand targeting, CT’ing each time. When the animal shows that he’d really rather have you’re offering than the grass, you can start pushing down on the poll to get them to go back to the grass. The fun part is when they actively refuse the grass for what you’ve got! I learned that one from Peggy Hogan.
From there, I targeted Atty to walk forward toward the trailer a couple of times, a couple steps at a time. CT’ing, of course. Then he offered to go walk to and get on the trailer. He did back off once after initially getting on, but there on, it was a good session. I did notice that he was a little bit tense with the sound of the rain, but I did raise the value of the reinforcer to help him with using Stud Muffins, either in pieces or whole. We did work our way through the whole repertoire and he did great. He even re-loaded after off-loading on cue.
Then we went to play with the tree target again.