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Old 01-12-2009, 01:47 PM
Gempress Gempress is offline
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Default Shake--more gentle?

Another Voodoo question. Surprise, surprise. And doberluv, I guess you can call this an "exhubrance-related" issue.

I taught Voodoo how to "high five" awhile back. Very cute. Here's the problem: he puts WAY too much energy into it. "High five" is now more like "right hook". He rears up and throws his entire weight into it now. It's painful. I have a scratch down my arm from the last time I asked him to do it.

I decided to go back to the clicker, and only mark him for doing it gently. The problem is that Voodoo gets frustrated and stressed easily, and just keeps offering the behavior more and more frantically. Poor thing.

Thoughts on how to gentle it down a bit?
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Old 01-12-2009, 02:22 PM
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Doberluv Doberluv is offline
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It sounds like you're doing everything right as far as only reinforcing the high fives that are gentle. If he seems frustrated and disappointed at your less that "exuberant" response to his "exuberant" high fives, I guess what I'd do is show him something he can do instead which involves some "exuberance"....like re-direct him to another activity that's just as fun but safe for you. LOL. But do turn away when he paws at you and hurts you. He mustn't be reinforced for scratching you. The game has to end there. In fact, it would be much, much better if the game ends before he ends up scratching you...when you first see it coming ahead of time, stand up, walk away. Then come back in a minute and try again, back and forth so he can see the distinction. Once this behavior dies down and he does get heavily reinforced for the nice, gentle high fives....and he does get an outlet for his "exuberance" at those other times, I think he'll get use to the idea and won't be frustrated anymore.
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Old 01-12-2009, 06:44 PM
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lizzybeth727 lizzybeth727 is offline
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*shudder* High five is my pet peave of the month: Two of my service dogs in training's foster homes taught them high five. We don't teach it because pawing is so self-reinforcing for so many dogs that it leads to a lot of annoying behaviors, which we have been experiencing from these dogs since they came back from fostering! So now all the trainers are forbidden to reinforce or practice any pawing behavior from these dogs! /rant.

As far as actual advice for Voodoo's behavior: Doberluv's advice is good, but if it doesn't work there's an interesting idea I thought I'd share. I was at a seminar a few months ago by Emma Parsons, and she talked about this: We all know that clicker training can be used to make behaviors stronger - simply reward the behaviors that are just a little better than the last one and build it until it is at the level you want. But you can also use clicker training to make behaviors weaker using the same principle - c/t the behavior that's slightly less exhuberant than the one before. You're shaping the behavior down instead of up. I used it recently to work with a dog who constantly whines. Instead of waiting and capturing silence (which very seldom happens, and when it does I usually forget to reward), capture the quieter whines. Gradually the whining got quieter and quieter, until it stopped altogether. Of course I was still rewarding silence if I could, just as you should still jackpot when he's more gentle than what you're expecting.
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Old 01-12-2009, 07:07 PM
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Doberluv Doberluv is offline
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Absolutely....shaping is good.

I taught Chulita, one of my Chihuahuas to high five. Jose` does it too but very gently and not very high. LOL. Anyhow, somehow she started using it to get attention and of course, my son and I too sometimes inadvertantly paid attention to her. And so it happened more frequently and was annoying...not really excessive, but still...when you're not ready, who wants a paw in the face? It's not too bad when the paw only weighs about an ounce, but still....Soooooo.....I told my son and I told myself to stop paying attention, to turn away, cross our arms and ignore those unsolicited high fives. Then as soon as she would give up and stop, (she'd still be sitting on my lap and just looking at me like, "huh?) I'd ask her for a high five to show her the distinction between being cued and not being cued. It didn't take long at all for her to get the hint.
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