What have pigeons to do with a dog walking nicely?

zoe_and_pretty_birdA dog may walk nicely for a couple of steps – and then start pulling.  He may sit down nicely – and then get straight up again. How can we increase duration – get him to continue the behaviour for longer and longer?

One method is well explained by Dani Edgerton: ‘300 Peck refers to an experiment in variable reinforcement involving pigeons.

The researcher taught pigeons to peck a bar for a reward. Slowly extending the number of pecks between rewards, the researcher was able to train her pigeons to reliably peck the bar 300 times before they were rewarded. This seems like an incredible amount when you consider it would not be unlike your dog being trained to sit 300 times in a row before any reward was given.’

She observes that we often expect many “300 Peck” type behaviors from our dogs without doing the repetitions necessary to build up to it.

The 300 peck method for teaching a dog to sit and stay is explained in a bit more detail on the Karen Pryor site thus:

sit – 1, click and treat
sit – 1,2, click and treat
sit – 1,2,3, click and treat
sit – 1,2,3,4, click and treat
sit – 1,2,3,4,5 – fail
sit – 1, click and treat
sit – 1,2, click and treat
sit – 1,2,3, click and treat
sit – 1,2,3,4, click and treat
sit – 1,2,3,4,5, click and treat
sit – 1,2,3,4,5,6, click and treat
sit – 1,2,3,4 – fail
sit – 1, click and treat
sit – 1,2, click and treat
etc…
.
I particularly like the 300 Peck method as another way of teaching a dog to walk nicely – and because it is more mechanical it can be easier for some people to execute. A blog by ‘nbfrakes’ explains it very well for heeling.  It is beautifully demonstrated in this video with John McGuigan.

Here is the story of a dog I worked with who was a big puller and very hard to control when out.

This is my main website with stories of many other dogs I have helped www.dogidog.co.uk.


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About Theo Stewart

I am a dog Behaviourist (INTODogs-ABTC - AAB) and trainer covering Beds, Herts, Cambs and Bucks, a 'Victoria Stilwell' Positively Dog Trainer (VSPDT) and a member of the IMDT. Graduate ISCP, International School for Canine Practitioners. My main site: www.dogidog.co.uk
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