Sunday, November 23, 2008

Let's Hear it for Latent Learning......

Latent learning as I understand it-refers to the fact that some things can be taught and then will be learned or "gel" after a period of time for the learning to be processed in the learners brain. It is a very cool thing and I have seen several examples of behaviors, especially harder behaviors, that when teach them then leave it alone for a period of time- BOOM you come back and they are way better then when you left off with them. This sometimes works even with very simple concepts say you are working on a sit for example -you stop do something else for a few minuetes then go back to the sit and Wha Laa, there it is.
It is a well known fact that I hate contacts...but I hate them a little less today, LOL. Origionally Lizzie was taught a four on the floor contact and she LOVES that behavior, she feels comfortable with it, she understands it. She would run up and over the contact and hit the ground in a down at the bottom of the obstacle. The problem is that Lizzie is a smart girl and figured out how to do the Aframe with a leap up over the yellow up contact and into the blue on the upside, she would leap over the Apex of the Aframe and then hit about in the middle, but definately above the yellow contact and then hit the ground with her butt touching the Aframe but definately missing all parts of the actual contact area. She is a very clever girl and you know I couldnt have taught anything like that if I was trying. I know she thought she was super clever and had figured out a way to save us a little time. I do believe my down fall with the four on the floor was I never did anything to teach Liz that she had to touch in the yellow, I ASSumed she would have to hit it to get to the down, so she was being a super good girl and doing all I asked. I just fogot to ask a key componant thinking surely she would have to stride through the yellow to hit her mat on the ground, well, Liz is much more talented then that.
Soooooo....I deceided since I am slow and this is my first really fast dog, Liz tends to spazz and run off if she gets nervous or feels alone, so we could really use another spot to connect-with a stopped contact, and because I couldnt think of any other options we deceided to do a 2o2o with her. Poor Liz was just so sure her contact behavior is the down on the mat at the bottom of the Aframe, and I think she thought when I was trying to teach a 2o2o that it was some sort of weird proofing behavior for the four on the floor, so she just kept doing everything possible to get into her four on the floor position. I felt so bad for her because she loved the four on the floor, and she really understood it and it really seemed to be messing with her confidence when we worked with it. She had the 2020 position on curbs, she had it on a block, she could do it everywhere but where she "knew" she was supposed to get into her four on the floor position.
I deceided that my biggest goal in training right now was to build her confidence, and get her to work with us. With her running off and the fact we still werent able to have her work with other dogs around I knew we were no where near trialing so I made the decision to leave the contact alone and not mess with it for a period of time, build her confidence and get her working with us in other areas, and we would just figure out what to do with the contacts when we had to. I was really glad I had the luxury of a little time before we had to worry about it.
So....about a week ago, Liz was playing in the agility yard before class, and I have not touched the 2020 behavior in maybe a month or two...but I went over and popped her on and BOOM---SHE GETS IT!!!! It just took a little while to process, but taking the pressure off and letting it all work out for her seems to have worked. So not a finished behavior, we need to of course add it to the whole obstacle, proof it, sensitize her to movement---all that good stuff, but hey, think we are definately on the right track now.

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