Amelia’s great experiment

I tried an experiment with Amelia the other day. I took her into our training room (aka the bedroom) with no treats, no treat prep, no bait bag, and ran some rally exercises. They were wretched, because I’m really bad at fading treats, and Amelia’s not a girl who’s gonna work for free. So I asked online, and Shirley Chong gave me an exercise to try with her.

I cut up cheese and sausage, and put a few kibbles in another dish. Then I took Amelia into the training room, asked for a single sit, and gave her a kibble. Then I asked for a sit, some heeling, and another sit, and had a party, giving her 3 or 4 cheese/sausage pieces, one at a time. Then I asked for a single down, 1 kibble. Then some heeling, a 360, and party! with several good treats given one at a time. We did this several times, and the change was obvious. The longer she worked the more “up” she got, more drivey, happier, perkier. She never said no to a kibble for a single behavior, because she’s always starving (at least, she thinks she’s always starving). But a single kibble is no competition for several treats, doled out one by one, with lots of praise and excitement.

I’m going to keep working on this, ’til I can build her up to way more than a single rally run with no treats along the way but a huge party at the end. And I won’t make this mistake with my next dog. I’ll have to find a new mistake to make!


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3 Responses to “Amelia’s great experiment”

  1. Holly Says:

    so, lemme see….

    several behaviors with a party interspersed with one behavior for one kibble? Does the 1/1 have to be a boring treat?

    • lizalundell Says:

      The idea was to teach Amelia to keep going without an immediate payout for each behavior. I’m really bad at fading food, so competition performance falls off.So, I wanted to make it really clear to her that a treat for one behavior would be (relatively) low value, while treats for a series of behaviors would be BIG TIME!

  2. Casey Lomonaco Says:

    Hi Liz,

    One thing I will suggest which has been incredibly helpful for me in transitioning dogs from a continuous reinforcement schedule to a variable reinforcement schedule is a tip I got from my friend Laura Van Arendonk Baugh of

    Laura suggested using dice to create random reinforcement schedules. Both in my classes and my training with my own dogs, I’ve found this to be extremely helpful and quite a bit of fun! Start out with a 6 sided dice, and when your dog is doing well with 1 – 6 reps for a single reinforcer, add another 6 sided dice. You can even work up to using one or multiple twenty sided dice!

    Hope this is helpful. Keep up the good work with your blog!

    Casey Lomonaco
    Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner
    Rewarding Behaviors Dog Training

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