Monday, July 16, 2012

Training my cat and dog to jump through a hoop

Having extra time at home, lately, I have restarted Thunder the Wonder Cat and Maggie’s (aka dumb dog) clicker training.

One major development—since I have been using a tongue click with Maggie for grooming so much and a clicker click with Thunder, I can now work with Thunder and Maggie usually doesn’t even come in the room. It makes it much easier since she would distract Thunder. It is one of the main reason I stopped his training. Maggie kept getting in the way.

It has been a couple of years since I have regularly worked with Thunder. I had him targeting through obstacles and jumping through a hoop. I didn’t hold it high—just high enough for him to hop. Upon restarting his training, it appears that he remembers targeting and sitting up, perfectly. We do that in the beginning to charge the clicker and then move to the hoop. I target him through it at a walk, and he got it the first day. The problem with Thunder is his little belly gets filled up, fast, and we might get 10-15 clicks at the most. I even break the treats in half, but he just quits when he is full.

After about 5 sessions, I picked up the hoop, and he walked straight through it without any targetting! I was so proud of the little guy. We did it 4 times—and then his belly was full.

Maggie has her own hoop—much bigger. I cut them out of a cardboard box. The first few sessions were a disaster. She was afraid of the hoop and ran away. I was frustrated. I know that as a rescue dog, she has baggage, but seriously, was she beaten with a hoop?

I then decided to try her outside on the leash. It makes it a little tougher to coordinate—but I don’t trust her off leash—she runs off and won’t let me catch her. (Rescue baggage, I’m sure.) Anyway, I sat on the ground and held the hoop in front of me. To get to me, she had to go through the hoop. She was hesitant, at first, but once she understood, she did great.

I then changed to holding the hoop and having her walk through it—not to me. The leash was able to guide her. I got her stepping through in the same session.

I then put aside the hoop, sat down on the ground and stuck my leg out and asked her to jump it. She knows the jump command, and figured it out quickly. I did lots of clicks for her. When I stood up and held out the hoop and said “jump,” she hopped through.

Now we have had 3 sessions, and we are working on improving those two tricks. She will jump back and forth over my leg 3 times before a click. She is really good at that. She will hop through the hoop, but is having trouble getting her back legs through. I will keep it lower until she figures all of it. I may be clicking too soon, causing her to stop before she is through.

So, it appears she isn’t dumb—just challenged. She has been enjoying her sessions quite a bit and gets very excited. I will keep up with it.

1 comment:

Dom said...

I want to teach my PONY to jump through a hoop. You're giving me ideas!