Saturday, August 12, 2006

DogStars Acting Class

I have been hinting mom for the last six and a half years that there are "star qualities" within me. For examples: being able to unlock car doors from the inside ("Un-locking" car door for mom), being gentle and protective to critters I was bred to kill even though I was not socialized with them at an young age, opening hamster cages and taking the hamster out of the cage without harming it in anyway (Introducing "Georgie" - My GIANT pet bunny ), being the only dog to do a convincing "sleeping position" at a photo shoot with no previous modeling experience(Modeling experience), etc.

Finally, mom got the point and signed me up for Level 1 Acting Class at DogStars Hollywood Animal Talent Agency.

Today was my first class and mom told me I made her proud (I mean, don't I always??)!!! Mom was a little concerned at first because I can get quite "sensitive" about dogs being in my space while I'm on leash. However, mom kept a close eye on me and I behaved very well. I even played with this cute Bichon named "Baby"!!!

The method of training at DogStars is 100% positive reinforcement (treat/toy reward, praise and LOV'IN) which means no harsh, corrective methods (reprimanding, jerking of choke collars, physical punishments) are used. Mom believes in the idea of positive reinforcement because it makes her the happiest when she knows I'm obeying her commands because I WANT TO please her, and not because I'M WORRIED what kind of punishment I'd get if I don't obey her commands. I wholeheartly agree with mom on this one since it means there will be lots of happy doggies, and happy mommies/daddies!!!

In the beginning of the class, we learned about clicker training. Our very nice instructor, Georgina, explained to us the clicker with the reward that comes afterwards lets me and my doggie friends know when we are doing the behaviour correctly. The clicker sound will also indicate to us when the behaviour is finished. So to get us to start responding to the clicker sound, our moms started to "click" with their one hand and following immediately with a treat from the other hand. Seriously, I think this was the easiest thing I've ever had to do. I mean, you just basically had to listen (or pretend you are listening like I did) and eat, listen and eat, listen and eat. Even if you still really couldn't understand what your crazy mom was doing to you, you still got to eat anyway. Ahhh.....I wish life were like this all the time!!!

Then the real work begun.............

We were introduced to four basic commands today: "on your mark", "nudge it", "Take it, hold it, and drop it", "look or watch". The following is from the handout provided by Georgina.

On your mark - the dog is directed to a designated mark

  1. Position yourself on the opposite side of the mark and lure the dog with a treat to walk over the mark.
  2. Once the dog steps on the mark, even with just one foot - click and reward.
  3. Release with your release word and reward and praise.
  4. Repeat the request "MARK" while encouraging the dog to step on the mark once again.
  5. Say "go to MARK" - once they are on their mark - reward them with a treat while they are still present on the mark.
  6. Release with the release word and reward and praise.
  7. "OK" - praise and reward when behaviour is finished.
  8. Try to get both feet on the mark - click and reward the dog while both feet are still on the mark.

I personally think I did ok on this exercise........ I am such a good girl that I have gotten into the habit of zigzagging my way through all the junk mom has scattered across her bedroom floor. So naturally when you put a wooden block in front of me, I would want to walk over or around it instead of stepping "on it". Doesn't that make sense?? I mean, wouldn't any dog owner be happy about not having any muddy pawtographs on their belonging?

I don't know what those weird humans were thinking ....geez.. However, I was so annoyed by mom constantly luring me with a treat but not giving it to me when I stepped "over" the block that I thought I would step on it for a change, and guess what? I GOT MY buffalo jerky!! Then I got the idea that when my paw is on top of the block, I hear a click which is usually followed by a treat (when mom is thinking clearly that is). So being the smart girl I am, I thought I could just "paw" at the block without actually stepping on it (since I really don't like stepping on weird stuff) and still get treats. Unfortunately, my EVIL mom stopped treating me when I pawed, and only treated me when I had my foot or feet on the block!!!!! I am still quite %#$& at her for this!!!!!

Nudge it - the dog is given the command to push the indicated object with it's nose

  1. Show the dog the treat
  2. Place the treat under a bowl
  3. Indicate the bowl to the dog (ie, tapping it lightly)
  4. As soon as the dog's nose makes contact with the bowl - click and reward - the open the bowl and let the dog have the treat underneath as well.
  5. Repeat it until the dog is touching the bowl with it's nose on a regular basis
  6. Then only click and reward when the dog has actually moved the bowl with it's nose
Now I did MUCH better with this exercise since mom plays similar games with me at home where she would hide my treats somewhere, a lot of times it's under something (like a pillow, etc) and I would have to basically use my nose to nudge things out of the way to get to my treat. So I did really well at the beginning, but then I got smart (so I thought), and started to "paw" at the bowl instead of using my nose......... Well, looking back, I think I should have just stuck with using my nose since I would have gotten more treats that way from my EVIL mom.'s not my fault that I like to use my hands or paws for everything. Hey, didn't they say dogs that like to use their hands/paws instead of their mouths are smarter???

Take it, Hold it, and Drop it - your dog takes an object in its mouth and holds it until told to drop it
  1. Place an object in front of the dog's mouth and offer it to him while you say "TAKE IT".
  2. Once the object is in the mouth - praise dog for taking it.
  3. Then tell the dog to "DROP IT" the object right away - click and praise
  4. After 5-10 tries, the dog begins to understand what take it/drop it mean, have the dog "HOLD IT" in its mouth for one second, and then say "DROP IT" for him to release the object.
  5. Repeat until the dog is able to hold the object in his mouth for 5 seconds, and drop it on command - click and reward when he completes and performs the exercise correctly. okay.... I really did not do very good on this exercise. Our instructor gave mom a roll of duck taped newspaper as the object I was supposed to take it and hold it. Much to my "highly developed" brain's (this is my "personal" opinion) dismay, I could careless about the roll of duck taped newspaper. I mean, what's the point of having newspaper if you are just gonna put duck tape over all the readable stuff?? So ass soon as the newspaper roll went into my mouth, it "rolled out" HAHAHA. Mom couldn't even say "drop it" fast enough - even more reason to laugh seeing mom's tongue get stuck while she was busy trying to click and treat with her hands. BUT hey, it is NOT my fault since it was my mom who forgot to bring my favorite AirDog Tennis toy which I never have any problem "holding", only "dropping" (even though I am trained to "drop it" and "leave it" on command LOL).

Eye Line - Look or Watch - Asking for the dog's attention

  1. Get the dog's attention by holding a treat in your hand and putting it in front of the dog's face and say "LOOK" or "WATCH" - click and reward for focusing on your hand.
  2. Keep your hand fairly close to dog's nose to start with especially in a new environment
  3. Click and reward if the dog kept it's focus on your hand
  4. Keep your hand in one position - try not to move your hand around at this point in training.
  5. Click when the dog looks at your hand with the treat in it, reward after 2 seconds.
  6. Progress to a 5 second "LOOK" or "WATCH", then slowly increase the time.

I did quite well at first when there were no distractions. However, when we put in distractions (ie, people walking by), I couldn't help it and looked away for a brief second. Georgina thinks that I just always have to be aware who is in my "personal bubble". Mom thinks that I was just checking if the other person had treats that did not require intense staring to obtain LOL. Of course, then I got smart again, and started "talking back" at mom about not giving me treats. When "talking" didn't work, I started to play dead, when that still didn't work, I started throwing random punches at mom (this is how I "paw" at mom...). Well punching definitely DID NOT work!

Overall, I give myself two paws up for being a relatively good girl and not totally embarrass mom. Mom says there is a lot of work that needs to be done before my "star qualities" can shine through, but patience, hard work, perseverance, and determination (this I do not lack), are all it takes.


Anonymous said...

wow, sunshade, you are a star!!! any movie offer yet?

(also, i notice now you have enable readers to comment)

love, boo


Wow we will have to try that. TAG YOUR IT. Read our blog to find out what to do next.

Pippin, the Gentle Pup said...

Hi Sunshade,

I tagged you (come to my blog and see what to do)