Saturday, March 20, 2010

Nice day for a Picnic

60 degrees, I was home for the remainder of the day. Why not a picnic? With Melissa in attendance of course. I didn't plan an elaborate picnic. This was Melissa's first time attending a to make it uncomplicated for the trial run. Just me, a sandwich, a bottle of Snapple iced tea, and two dogs.

The sandwich was sort of boring, but a favorite of mine for a quick grab and go....12 grain bread and peanut butter. I figured it would be better to have a boring sandwich then a dripping hot roast beef on rye. That might have made it a bit too tempting for Melissa. I was working on manners, and I do like to set her up to be successful. Why practice failure?

So I don my sunglasses and out I go, sandwich and drink in hand, two dogs in attendance. One dog with impeccable manners around food, the other ...well, Melissa is learning. I walk across the yard...the dogs show some interest. I rewarded both of them for keeping four feet on the floor. I am optimistic that I will be able to sit in the Adirondack chair without having a Borzoi on my lap. I was almost successful....up came one paw. I was very neutral and took her paw off.

I proceeded to open the iced dog in a sit, she gets a tiny piece of crust of bread. Melissa remains standing, but is not jumping or pushing to get what is in my lap. A tiny piece of crust for her also, I reward all the behavior I want to see repeated. No need for her to sit yet...that will come in time. I eat, the dogs watch. I randomly give them some tiny pieces of bread with peanut butter. Melissa sits.....I gave her a jackpot, several tiny pieces in a row. I just 'captured' a sit. Melissa offered the behavior, I rewarded. I don't expect her to sit all the time but if she is rewarded for it, she will offer it more often in hopes of being rewarded. The basis of positive reinforcement training.

I think the days of me keeping Melissa on a lead while I eat might be nearing an end. Up until now, if I want to eat with her in attendance, Melissa has been on lead, given a bone to chew to keep her occupied. She chews while lying on a mat, I eat in peace. Today was a bit different: outdoors, no mat, no chew bone, no lead, but very boring food. Melissa will be invited again. And so ended our little picnic.

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