Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Rewarding non-compliance with another cue

What do we call this with positive reinforcement? A behavior chain! Rewarding one behavior by giving another, known cue directly afterwards--only in this case, I'm rewarding her NON-behavior with another cue that a.) she knows and b.) gives her access to sheep.

I am guilty of this. Soda's "down" has always been bad. Always. But I've been letting it get worse by doing this ol' number --


*pauses after a couple of steps on a flank*

[me] "crap, she went to far, she didn't lie down, but I need to fix this so ... away to me!"

and in effect I just rewarded her by giving her another cue because I need to fix the mistake that she just made because she didn't listen. Going and enforcing the down by making her do it doesn't seem to do anything. So, I just sat there and repeated lie down until she did no matter what the sheep did--and that meant that they usually broke back to the hay, which made Soda uncomfortable. Pretty quick she figured out it was better to lie down quickly than to keep on moving because if she kept moving, I wouldn't give her another cue and if she tried to do her own thing, I'd chase her off. (That didn't actually happen, but I'm pretty sure she knew that's what would happen! :P ) In about 1/2 an hour, I had a considerably faster down. I was pretty happy.

Now, with that said, I really don't want to use a down that much for her. She is so weak that a down (which for her is actually a sit--what kind of border collie sits??--you know what? I think I want to fix that too) takes all her power away and she has a hard time getting moving again, especially when driving. I need to teach a good stand. I'm going to talk to Terry about that next week.