Friday, August 5, 2016

Dante and the Feed Dish

Dante and the Feed Dish

Ellen soaks some hay cubes for Ranger when she visits.  After Ranger eats them, she lets Dante play with the dish.  Dante loves to play with everything.

Last week, Kevin got the idea that it would be cute to teach Dante to pick up the dish.  Dante had his stall door open with the stall guard across, and he set the dish in the aisle.  Dante  liked the dish, nudged it, pulled the towel on his stall’s towel rack, pawed, looked at Kevin, touched the dish...He did everything except pick up the dish.

This went on for a while, and Kevin was getting comically frustrated.  I told him to click him as soon as Dante gets his mouth on the edge of the dish.  By trial and error, Dante grabbed the edge and picked it up.  Kevin immediately clicked.  Dante dropped the dish and Kevin gave him a treat.

Hurray!  Now, Kevin wanted him to pick it up, again.

Dante did all the things he did before, but this time, he would look right at Kevin, as if to say, Is that it?  Do I get my click, now?”  It was paw, look at Kevin, grab the towel, look at Kevin, touch the dish, look at Kevin.  In less time than the first time, he picked the dish up.  Kevin was so happy!

The third time, he still cycled through all the other things, looking at Kevn after each time.  (It was so cute.)  I think it was only 30 seconds before he picked it up.  After that, he picked it up rather readily.

This is a typical clicker training scenario.  There is a lot of trial and error at first, and then there is less and less.  Our job is to click at the right moment.  If our horse does the wrong thing, we don’t reprimand, we just wait.  Most horses who are familiar with clicker training are really trying to get it right.  They aren’t resisting, they are joining us in our endeavors.  I think that is why clicker training of so fun.


Karol Ayne said...

I enjoyed this post quite a bit (and also the one after about Starry not wanting to lead on trail). I love the positive reinforcement that comes with clicker training. I have used it both on my old man, Griffin as well as (believe it or not) my cats at home. I have one cat that is highly food motivated.

Unfortunately, with Griffin -- it hasn't stuck as well because he is NOT a very food motivated horse. He is quite picky when it comes to his food. Not having a good way to reward him, I didn't stick with it. Your post has inspired me to revisit the clicker work with him.

I have never done clicker training with me lease horse Tex either, so I think I might use it to work on some things with him as well. He is VERY food motivated. He'll eat the treats AND the container they came in if you let him. :-)

TeresaA said...

Cute trick to teach. I also love the photo- he looks so handsome.