Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Jackpot - Part 1

Part 1 is an edited repost from 2009 and Part 2 will attempt to really show you how to train jackpots.

Unlike agility, competing in obedience requires the dog to work for several minutes before receiving a food reward (an agility course lasts less than 60 seconds). The handler is allowed to praise the dog between obedience exercises, but you cannot reward with food until you leave the ring.

Some trainers do not like to train with food for this reason and make an attempt to wean their dogs off of treats or they never use food at all. Working for praise would certainly make training and showing in obedience easier. It works for some dogs, but in my experience (limited to only training greyhounds), I do not think it “usually” translates into a dog that works with the utmost joy and willingness.  That might be my own shortcoming, but I love training with food. 
My approach has been to gradually ask my greyhounds for more work between food rewards and I introduce the jackpot. Reinforcement from my pocket is usually just a bite of Red Barn, but later when I ask for 1 minute of heeling or a course of 20 agility obstacles, I might provide 10 small bites of hamburger or dollop of creme cheese. For all 5 Utility Dog exercises at a busy dog show venue, I might provide ¼ can of canned dog food, peanut butter to lick off along the rim, and chunks of roasted turkey. My goal is for my dog to not feel cheated or unappreciated. I want my dog to be excited about the potential jackpot as she works through each exercise.

I love that when I show my greyhounds in obedience that they tend to work really fast. I have seen a lot of dogs that lag, walk, or trot very slowly through the exercises. That can be stress related, but I think it may also be that the dog is not trained to look forward to a reward. The slow dog knows he is probably not getting anything anyway, so he is not motivated to work faster.

I think that food creativity is also important. If I continue to use the same food, it starts to lose its value. Surprising my canine partner with something new and unusual, keeps her coming back for more.

Photos: Katie weaving (top). Katie retrieving a glove in the directed retrieve exercise in Utility (bottom).


Stephen said...

Now you all know why I don't have as many leftovers as I used to for turkey sandwiches! =-O

Scott said...

Katie is beautiful!

I started using the Charlie Bear treats with liver because they are small, low calorie and the hounds seem to love them.

They also really like hot dogs, cheese and steak.

cheshirecattat said...

I use hot dogs and meatballs as our warm up treats before running...Arwen's ultimate jackpot treat is a can of sardines! She just loves knowing she has a fishy jackpot waiting for her. My fellow competitors are probably not as excited...I've been told I stink :o)

Jess said...

I have been lurking around your blog for some time, but have never commented.

Thank you so much for what you do -- you have inspired me, and my greys have benefited tremendously. I don't think Shoxy and I would have passed the CGC test without your blog :).

If you have a moment, I was wondering if you might elaborate on the process of training the concept of jackpot. I have been muddling through and the result is that my dogs have a muddled idea of what I'm getting at. Go figure!

Katie said...

I love watching the faster-moving dogs in the obedience rings. The ones that you can tell are driving their handlers. They look like they're enjoying what they're doing so much more than the dog who plods through the heel, the dog who trots on the recall and the retrieves.

For whatever reason, both of my pits think milkbones are the end-all-be-all of rewards, so I use those as jackpots sometimes. Otherwise I like real meat, cheese, and Natural Balance roll (because it's easy). Oh, and babyfood licked from the jar.

greytblackdog said...

who doesn't like a reward as motivation. look at humans. just because someone tells us we do a good job, doesn't mean we would go to work and do it every day. there has to be a reward for it in the end: $$$ usually. liver, hotdogs, pb, work just like a bonus for dogs :)

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Thanks, Scott.

Cheshirecat, I have not been brave enough to use sardines or mackeral. Very good idea if someone really needs something highly motivating.

Jess, glad to hear from you. I'm so glad the blog has been helpful. I have another jackpot post written that still does not answer your question but I will try to elaborate in one after it.

Katie, I love the baby food idea. I'll have to try that one.


Pam said...

Back when I was doing lots of obedience work, I made big use of the jackpot. I had a little orange tupperware container that my dog knew was the GOOD STUFF! I would show it to her and then set it down before going into the ring or training area. (As you get into advanced stuff, it's important to have a well-defined "work area"). I'd ask for gradually longer and longer work periods of exercises she knew REALLY well. Always ending on a high-note, I'd release her and then we'd RUN over to the little orange bowl and she'd get her jackpot! It was small enough for me to also hide it in my pocket. So, sometimes, it magically appeared IN THE RING! Or, I'd hide it under the broad jump. It was often filled with cream cheese (she loved). So, I could take the lid off and let her lick a bunch of it, then cover it back up, go again, and return to the magic orange bowl. It needs to be like a slot-machine. Totally random payoff! But, only payoff BIG when the dog has done great work!

Also, I always RAN from one exercise to the next. Jenn is right. The faster you can get through the whole routine, the better.

Someday, I'll get back in the ring with a dog. :-(


Anonymous said...

I love your blog! we have been involved with greyhounds and greyhound rescue for almost 13 years. We currently have 3 hounds and are getting our 4th tonight! Thank you for loving and providing a home for the greyhound! Greyhounds ROCK!!


Mielikki's Hunt said...

great ideas, thankyou! I'll make sure to use them as I graduate Gossip to regular OB this spring. .

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Again, thanks for all the nice feedback. I really do appreciate it and love hearing from all of you.

Michelle, good luck with #4!

Good luck with Gossip, Mielikki.


IHateToast said...

have you ever had a laundry mishap? i have never done a load with out some pocket ghost (kleenex) or worse.

just wondered if you have with the goodies you put in there. maybe you could jackpot train me. can i make requests?

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Toast - I only train dogs and husband :-). Yes, I wash my treats sometimes. So far so good, they come out squeaky clean and no harm done to the clothes. I do try to empty my pockets after each training session though.