Thursday, February 24, 2011

Clicker & Desensitization

I was looking through my Pavlich book and decided to write down the worksheets to see what we've worked on and what we haven't. I quickly realized the things I'd skipped. Yikes!

We have target, not mugging, hindquarter yields, touching the whole body, haltering, backing, and cleaning the feet out, but we've missed desensitizing with bags, flags, tarps, etc., walking to me from light pressure on the lead rope (basically a recall), touching scary objects and straddling the legs for trimming. And to think I was ready to move on to forequarter yields, etc. It's no wonder he gets impatient with the farrier since I've never worked on straddling the leg. So I definitely want to work on those things before I move on.

Since I didn't have a lot of time before work I decided to work on touching scary objects (Alexandra Kurland's Goblins Game), smile and also a new target object (small orange cone). I first did smile a few times with me in the pasture with him and he did them well. He was still trying to walk too close to me though. The smile is really nice though. It's not a lazy effort lol.

Chrome was being really pushy and ugly about the treats so when he grabbed with teeth I bopped him in the teeth/lips with my hand. It startled him, but he didn't leave me. After that he stopped snatching. I think it's just a patience thing and considering he's a two year old, not to mention he hasn't been gelded left and I've been letting him get away with it, it's not really a surprise. It's something we can work on.

After that I got out my regular target (tennis ball on a dowel rod) and did a few touches to make sure he was thinking target. Then I got out the small orange cone. I had him touch it while it was in my hand first. He did that easily and was trying to bite it so I put it on the ground. Again he was trying to bite it and pick it up so after a couple of clicks I stopped clicking for biting it. He lost interest when he didn't get a click so I hung it on a fence post. That time he was touching it without biting. I did it a few times and then put it away.

Next I pulled out a whip with a plastic grocery bag tied to the end of it. He was nervous! He was arching his neck, spooking in place and doing his scared snort. It took him about half a minute to touch it with his neck all stretched out as far away as he could get from it. It was totally cute. I clicked him a few times for barely touching it and then waited a second until he touched it hard enough for it to crinkle. He started a little at the noise but didn't move. Within two minutes of following and touching it he was relaxing and touching it easily. :) I was proud of him for facing his fear. I'll probably do another session of following and touching it and then I'll move on to touching his body with it.

I also worked with Zeppelin on target again. I was having him follow me around again and I discovered something interesting. He does not like to approach me from behind (probably because Chrome has been backing into him to claim space by the feed shed)! He isn't too fond of approaching from the side either. He likes to walk up to me directly from the front. Also when I'm leaning down to give him the treat he doesn't act scared at all anymore.

I worked on having him follow the target and to approach from behind. In the end I had him following behind me slightly to my right, touching the target when I stopped and then I would twist my body around to give his treat.

After doing that for as long as I could take it (a bit boring lol) I put the target up and approached him. I stopped at about ten feet away and stood still waiting. He watched me for a minute or two (that can feel like forever!) and then walked up to me and stopped about a foot or two away (about where the target would be). I clicked and gave him a treat. Then I tried petting his forehead and I don't think he saw it coming because he spooked in place. I was so proud of him for not running away though. I squatted down on my heels like I normally do and worked on petting his forehead, click, treat. He was letting me scratch his forehead and poll instead of just running my hand down his face. When I finished I told him 'all done' and put my stuff away. While I was standing by the chicken coop talking to my husband about the chickens Zep just stood there watching me the whole time (a fence separated us). :D

1 comment:

  1. I'm impressed how Chrome did with the plastic bag. Bombay and Gabbrielle are still terrified of bags. I've tried desensitizing them with bags every year and it takes a long time to get them to follow the bag and touch it. They won't let me touch their bodies with it at all. Maybe they'll be more tolerant now that I'm doing clicker training.


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