Puff is sure a slow learner in getting "turn right," "turn left"
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Thread: Puff is sure a slow learner in getting "turn right," "turn left"

  1. #1
    Bob Pr. is offline Senior Member
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    Lawrence (ex-Topeka), KS
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    DefaultPuff is sure a slow learner in getting "turn right," "turn left"

    & I'm a slow teacher.

    My first Lab, Bess, learned quickly but was extremely motivated to retrieve -- she was never satiated even when she'd been doing it for an hour, retrieve after retrieve. We used training dummies (with a lanyard to let me sling them farther) and she quickly learned to follow hand signals [go (the direction pointed), right, left, come back] or my (mouth) whistle calls to go right (2 short higher pitched notes) or left (one longer lower pitchednote). Anything to retrieve whatever was thrown.

    She could be sent swimming in water and I could give her at least 6 or more commands in a row (R - L - L - R - R - L) before throwing in her dummy to retrieve and she always turned immediately and accurately. She impressed me and everyone who saw her.

    Puff and I have been working on turning R and L for over 6 years and it is barely sinking in.

    Unlike Bess, Puff is neither highly motivated by food or to retrieve. Bess (on land) went out to retrieve at her top speed (about 30 mph) and back at the same rate. Puff runs at about her quarter speed going out and kind of lopes back at a slightly slower rate.

    I think they were about equal in speed of learning sit, stay, come, down, leave it, stand, shake (water off) so I don't think it's a difference in trainability as much as it is of motivation.

    Years ago, I dropped the whistling calls used with Bess and began shouting "Right!" or "Left!" along with arm signals at the same time.

    (When I say right or left, I'm referring to her right and left, not mine.)

    If there's an object, say a ball a Lab has dropped at our weekly LabFest and that's about 75 feet away, given enough time, enough "NO!"s and "SIT!" and arm signal redirections from me, I can get her to pick it up -- but that takes 3X as long as it would for me to go and pick it up myself.

    On our daily morning walks in the nature preserve, we usually practice these commands 6 - 10Xs. Lately, I've been taking a small towel to drape over her head and ears as she sits by me so she can't see where I've thrown the dummy. But her hearing is so good, she fairly accurately sets out in the direction it landed (slightly less when I try to disrupt that by having her sit facing away from the direction I throw it).

    When I'm lucky, I can have the dummy land in some soft grass so there'll not be much sound produced in landing.

    Puff seems to prefer going by her nose (which is amazingly sensitive -- far more than Bess's) or her hearing than to rely on my commands. But she does obey SIT! and kind of obeys arm signals in her first movement from that position.

    Anyone with similar experiences and suggestions for better outcomes?


    Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]

    Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
    http://forum.justlabradors.com/showt...?p=748#post748

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  3. #2
    Bob Pr. is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Lawrence (ex-Topeka), KS
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    DefaultTried something new this morning

    With Bess, as best I recall, when I sent her straight out she'd run straight and look straight until I redirected her. Then I'd sling the dummy to her left or right, whistle the correct signal (L or R) just before it hit ground or water, and from that sound and appearance, Bess almost immediately learned which tone(s) meant which direction.

    With Puff, she won't go straight as far and she's continually scanning (or moseying) R-L-R-L to see where it's going.

    This morning, in addition to having her sit with her back to the tree nursery (rows of young trees) that we use as a practice ground, after Puff sat with her back to the direction I'd sling the dummy, after putting the towel over her head, I slung the dummy but then, before it landed, quickly clamped my hands over the towel covering her ears AND began singing in a loud voice to drown out her hearing any cues as to where it landed.

    This seemed to help on the six slings we tried. She got praise for correct moves away from me and praise and a bite of breakfast kibble on her return. Didn't want to make it too much like work, wanted to keep it fun. But this looks like the most effective method we've tried so far.
    Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]

    Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
    http://forum.justlabradors.com/showt...?p=748#post748

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