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Discussion Starter #1
Chisum knows a handful of commands and tricks. His primary ones are: sit, down, bow, spin, come here, and leave it. We're working on strengthening touch (where he touches my hand) and I am now teaching stand.

However, there seems to be some confusion on his end regarding what I am asking for. There are times where he'll start offering behaviors because he knows I have something good. For example, he knows I have a piece of chicken so he starts spinning. I ask for a down, he gives me a bow first, thinking that's what will work.

Then, there are other times he just doesn't seem to know what I want. I say down, he bows. I say sit, he spins. That kind of thing.

Some of his commands have associated hand signals (not all) and sometimes those help him figure out what I'm asking. I don't know if the words are just too close together and he really doesn't understand the difference, or if I'm doing something wrong.

What do I need to fix here?

Also, if he gives the wrong behavior, do I ask again, or do I just wait and see if he'll give me the right one?

Is this just a matter of drilling on the commands until it clicks? There are some commands, like down, that he was really really solid on and now gets confused (which happened not long after I introduced bow, which is what made me consider that he may think the words sound too similar).


I should note, too, that it isn't a matter of having treats vs. not having treats - he's very food motivated but I've faded lures successfully and he'll work even if I don't have treats, but he's equally confused either way.
 

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Sounds mostly like a stimulus control thing though choosing clear cues will help.


Bow and down are similar in sound and execution, so easily confused ime. I use "bravo" as my verbal cue for bow and I have friends who use "curtsy" with their girls. Also make sure you're changing or adding your cue correctly.

For stimulus control, "Pepper" is my guys' fav game . Start out with just 2 behaviors. One well known and the other newer. Ask for the new one several times and reward each successful rep. Then throw in the well known behavior. Continue to ask rapid fire for the 2 behaviors rewarding correct responses. Incorrect responses get nothing and I tend to pause for just a second or two and then ask for a behavior when I have attention. It is super helpful to use reward placement to "reset" between cues.
You can also add in more behaviors later on. But when first starting stimulus control combos of 2 work best. This game is also awesome for maintenance of behaviors!
I learned this from Hannah Branigan. She might have a video on youtube. If not I am sure I have some I could share if I didn't make sense!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
@kmes - thanks! I'll have to try out that game, it sounds like it would help a lot.

I did think I would need to change bow to something else (I think bow/down confuses him the most) but never thought of using "bravo". I was totally stuck thinking of other words I could use!
 

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Make sure your hand signals aren't too similar. I point for everything pretty much and am trying to diversify that. I know he gets confused.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Yeah, I was concerned about him not understanding the hand signals, so I've been moving away from them for now. I'm just aware that I may not do them the same each time, which would confuse him. It seems to be the words that confuse him the most, because if I silently add in a hand signal to "remind" him after I give the cue, he catches on.

As a general rule of thumb, I know I shouldn't repeat cues so they don't lose their power. But if he doesn't respond the first time, do I want and see if he figures it out, or should I move onto something he seems to understand a little better?
 

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Be sure and give him enough time to "register" the command. Oftentimes Yogi is so fixated on the treats, that he almost doesn't seem to hear me ("just give me the dang treat NOW"). But if I stand still and wait, usually he will offer up the correct behavior.
 
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