I woke up at about 4:45 and began the day. It was about 45 minutes prior to taking Vincent out to Park. I started to write yesterday’s blog post and also read some email and tweets. It was very quiet here that early.
I took Vincent out and boy is that guy quick. I was out and back in in less than 5 minutes. He did that all 4 times today. It is awesome. It has been very windy today and quite cold in the morning so it was good to get back in doors.
I then worked on obedience with Barb and also “Go to Your Place”.
For breakfast I had cereal and went back to my room to get some things ready to take to the down town lounge (or Training Center).
We got down town about 8:15 or so and I was paired with another person in our class and off we went to do the Maple Avenue route once more. We had a traffic check during this route. Tom Pender basically drives up through an alley or driveway right in front of the dog and the dog must stop to insure the safety of himself and me. It went perfectly. He drove a van today but he will drive a silent car later on in class.
We got back pretty quickly. I then had some hot chocolate to try and warm up a bit and then Lucas Franck came over and asked me if I was ready to do some Clicker work. I was ready for that. Karen watched my things as I left with Mr. Franck. We went down two flights of stairs into this room I had never seen. It is a large open room where training staff can meet. It was very nice.
Now, since I had participated in Clicker training at GDB I was a bit familiar with the process. I was excited to see how the Seeing Eye approached the training.
For those that don’t know Clicker Training is a process of teaching the dog to “Target” things through the use of positive reinforcement. You will see how this works as I describe how the Seeing Eye does this.
Lucas handed me a food pouch to clip onto my belt (not a fanny pack like GDB gave us to use). He then handed me the clicker which I placed into my left hand. Lucas then held out a bell wrapped with duct tape and it had a magnet on the back. It was all hooked together on a key chain. He then had a long telescoping stick (one that someone would use in a mechanics shop to get screws with). So, the magnet would stick to the stick. He then had me click when I would hear Vincent touch the “Target” with his nose and the bell would ring. After the click the dog receives a treat. You do this to get the dog “in to the game”.
The process of targeting can be done to find almost anything (door knobs, empty seats, traffic signal buttons, etc.).
Eventually the goal is to slowly remove the need for the clicker for the specific target and simply use normal techniques of praise to reward the dog.
This process is very affective in training the dog. The big difference here is that the entire process is a very positive and rewarding one for the dog unlike the use of corrections when reworking a work related issue.
I had a blast with Lucas working on Clicker and we will continue the process on Thursday with finding door knobs.
I then went back and sat down to wait for everyone to finish up their routes. We got back around 11:30 or so so we took our dogs out to park and got ready for lunch.
For lunch we had grill cheese sandwiches and fries. It made me feel like a kid again.
After lunch we had a short meeting discussing traffic work. That was entertaining. The instructors played different roles in discussing the topic and they played a CD with Lucas Franck giving us examples of things not to do. I want to get a copy of this CD, the things on it are great fun!
We then discussed working our dogs in the house using the harness. Nothing new here really. I am just glad we don’t have to keep having them sit at the beginning of each set of stairs. It really slows down moving around the building for sure.
After the meeting we went to the Men’s lounge and we got booties for our dogs. We put them on and walked around with our dogs. Vincent wanted to run like a little pony and really wouldn’t listen to me to much with those things on. I can see this will be an interesting challenge with him getting used to these things. It made everybody laugh which probably didn’t help matters LOL. It really was quite funny.
At 2:30 we went down and had house keeping show us the new washers and dryers. These are side-by-side models and are quite different from the machines I used last time when I was here. They seem simple enough though and do have Braille and markings on them to help in where things are.
Barb came to see me around 4:15 or so and we worked again on “Go to Your Place”. She then told me she would bring in a crate for me to use with Vincent for a few days.
It was then time to feed, water and park our dogs just prior to dinner. After this was done we got to work the dogs down to dinner in harness. That was very nice. I love working Vincent in the building. It sure makes life a lot easier.
This evening we have the night off. I am very happy about this. I got a lot of things done tonight and just relaxed. I went down to groom Vincent and also transferred some files from Karen’s DS50 and emailed those files to her.
This concludes day 5. On day 6 we will start a new route, the South Street route. It is a very simple route but I am bringing Mobile Geo with me to aid in street names and just to have a play as I work with Vincent. It will be interesting to see what POIs are around along the route. Who knows, I may go in somewhere perhaps :).
See everyone on day 6.