Monday, June 10, 2013

47 Weeks - Jackpots

I am starting Maddie on "jackpot" training.  In the future, especially in obedience, Maddie will need to complete a whole course, several exercises, or a routine without any treats.  My strategy is that I never ever wean my hounds off of treats.  I think they work so much better, are joyful, and put forth more effort when they do not feel under paid and unappreciated.  My performance at work would surely suffer if my boss started to wean me off my paycheck.  So I apply the same idea to dogs.

You hear people talk about their dogs becoming "ring wise" which means the dog has learned there are no treats (and no corrections) in the competition ring and so the dog's performance becomes lackluster.  To avoid that problem, I teach mine that a big reward comes at the end.
The big reward or jackpot is usually something extra special like peanut butter, cream cheese, canned dog food, green tripe, raw meat mixture, yogurt, or cottage cheese.... something I am not going to carry in my pocket.

I cue the jackpot by saying "jackpot" and by taking the collar. You will notice in my videos that I touch or grab Maddie's collar before we head to a jackpot.  One of the problems, that sometimes will crop up is a dog leaving the ring to go find the jackpot.  I teach mine that they cannot have the jackpot until I have their collar so we establish a good pattern having to work with me to unlock access to the jackpot.
Here is Maddie doing some jump work.  As you know, she still has about 6 more months before she will be allowed to climb or jump anything of significant height.  I want to make sure she is fully mature first.  I am pleased that her tunnels are more under control.  They sometimes make her crazy.  I still block her access if we are not using them since Maddie will still play in them.

At this point, my jackpot gets divided up. The reward should equal the work.  The biggest and best jackpots ever created were definitely for Katie competing in Utility obedience.  But a puppy doing a few jumps equals a few licks from the jackpot container.
The heel work in the next video illustrates beginner jackpot work really well.  Maddie has access to the containers (they are even distracting), but she cannot get into them.   Instead of begging her to stay with me, I give her the opportunity to try to get into them.  Eventually she exhausts that attempt and figures the best way into the container is working with me.
Again, you saw me grab Maddie's collar each time.  For seasoned dogs like Seven and Riley, they LOVE collar grabs!