Obstacle Discrimination

What to choose?


Poncho and I did a small dog walk/tunnel discrimination session this morning using the following set up: Dog walk plank onto a table with a tunnel underneath.


I didn't use the whole dog walk, as I wanted to reward for choosing the correct obstacle on verbal cue. Using the whole obstacle opens up for a dilemma I wanted to avoid: What if Poncho chose correctly, but then missed the down contact? If I withheld the reward because of the missed contact, wouldn't I then be punishing the dog for choosing correctly as well? And if I rewarded wouldn't I then be rewording for choosing correctly but also for missing the contact?

I like eliminate all chances of the dog making a mistake that is not related to the specific problem we are working on. Using this set up I get to reward for correct choice almost immediately. I can do a lot of reps in a short time period and my dog doesn't have to go tons of reps on full size obstacles.

I do the same if I am working on hard weave pole entries. I might use only 4 poles. I get to reward quickly after correct entry and I have eliminated the chance of the dogs making a mistake further down the weaves like skipping a pole or so.

Poncho did great on the set up above. I simply sat him up 4-5 meters away from the plank. Let go of his collar, gave him his dog walk cue 'up, up, up' and let him choose. He was reward with a toy thrown onto the table as soon as he was on the dog walk plank. He chose correctly 90% of the time. Even at angels and with me in different positions.

So I made the challenge a bit harder by placing the tunnel entry right beside the dog walk plank

IMG_0873 The rate of success was way higher then I had expected, even at angels where Poncho had to go past the tunnel entry to get on to the plank, so I spiced it up a bit alternating between tunnel and dog walk cues. That made the rate of success drop a bit for starters, but Poncho quickly figured it out. Well done for a tunnel-maniac like Poncho.

Next challenge will be adding speed and handling.

If you by looking at the pictures in this article got the impression that Sol likes to be the center of attention, well then you are absolutely right. She has discovered the joy of tunnels all on her own. I do believe she learns through observation.