Thursday, December 22, 2011

A family affair

I LOVE the new training levels! They are very well written and we are checking off level 1 boxes in the book already. I have gotten our 2 year old son involved who loves working with Reyna. I am having him go through the levels with Reyna also to help build their working relationship. It works out well since his attention span is about 1-2 minutes and I really need to keep the training sessions to about that time frame anyway. He already helps out a lot with Relaxation Protocol exercises so this is just a step up from that.

On that note the more I work with Reyna in our new rule structure the longer her attention span is becoming. I have already noticed a marked difference in her stress levels, or should I say lack-thereof. It has also helped me become more aware of signs that she is beginning to stress and needs a break. I am still sticking with the general rule of 5 reps then a break, but we have gone as high as 8 reps for some behaviors with no issues, on the flip side if I notice her mouth open or frown lines we take a break even if we're only on rep 3. I am very excited with the results, we are both enjoying sessions more.

Another lesson I have learned is that adding a cue makes her nervous. We have gotten up to 14 seconds of solid eye contact, which is a miracle in itself since eye contact is on the lengthy list of things that stress her out, so I decided to add the cue "watch" right as she locks in. Something about my voice must reek of "cue" because she immediately started whining and throwing behaviors at me like down, back up, sit etc. So I made a note of it and this morning made an effort to say the cue very softly and remove all duration criteria. watch/yes/treat, watch/yes/treat, she didn't give any stress signs so we'll hold here for a day or two and then try to add back some duration VERY slowly.

In exciting news our object pick up criteria is now "pick up fork, hold, I position bucket under her chin, she sets fork in bucket, yes/treat". Our success rate was 85% this morning which should be a sign to up the ante, but the more I learn about Reyna the more I know slower is really faster so we'll wait for 100% at that level and then start making her have to work just a touch to get it into the bucket. Now I need to start thinking of a cue for it :)

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