In our last couple of sessions, I’ve played with Ollie first with the intention of possibly transporting Atty again. However, a little problem with the trailer has postponed the actual possibility of that. I can’t close one of the back doors because a piece of weather stripping (?) is coming off and gets caught in the door.
Anyway, it’s been interesting working with Ollie as I really have to control my wanting to ask for more or try to shape for more behavior when what I’m really trying to do is counter condition him to the trailer in general. Getting on and staying on are secondary to that.
To that end, the party in or near the trailer has actually moved inside. He’s willing to put his front feet on and even offer a back foot (toe resting) on the trailer.
I don’t click and try to shape anything. I simply feed him on the trailer. He will give me about three good efforts and then walk away. If he walks all the way back to the paddock gate, I know we’re done for the day. However, I try to end the session before he does. I try to ask him to back off before he does. I would like for him to want more, to offer more.
And one day, in these last three sessions, he seemed to not want to leave the trailer and he looked back at it like he still wanted the party to be happening over there. That day, that time, I did let him give it another go. But after another try or two, we quit for the day.
Sometimes I use carrots bits rather than Alam cubes. The reinforcers have to match the effort put in. And if I’m trying to counter condition his feelings about the trailer, I think I should use higher-value treats than just plain ol’ Alam cubes!
One step at a time.
Atticus, on the other hand, is quite happy to get on the trailer for all those high-value treats in the hay bag! Apples and carrots and peppermints! Oh my!
He still doesn’t like it when the side door closes, even if the back door is open. I go around to the other side and toss in treats from there. Then I go back to his side door and open it again.