I feel as if I've always been pretty candid about the fact that there have been many holes in our training from the get-go, especially in relation to foundation sills.
Bentley's contacts are a prime example, and the reason I started this blog many months ago.
I mentioned in the post about our last trial that Bentley clearly has no idea what the criteria is for his contacts. He tries so hard, but is obviously confused. I am feeling frustrated because it's clear that what we're doing now is not working (targets -- fading them and proofing). It seems as soon as we take a visual prop away, he gets very confused.
Several things occurred to me when it comes to how Bentley learns (tricks, obedience, agility)--
1) He generalizes very poorly. Using props is a bad idea because he tends to rely on them and cue directly off of them regardless of how long they are in play or how quickly or slowly they are faded.
2) It is very important that he have a strong foundation skill before we start to build on it (this is likely true of all dogs, but exaggeratedly so for him)
Therefore, it's time to start from the ground up. No gimmicks!
We're going to start teaching him to get into his 2o2o like we're teaching a trick. You start with the basic behavior (touching the contact, getting onto the contact, having back feet on and front feet off, holding that position, running into that position and so on and so forth).
Well, we went in the yard early this week to start this new regimen and I realized almost immediately how much we missed with this particular behavior. He stood next to the dogwalk and stared at me. He offered sits, he offered downs, he marched, he spun around. He didn't even want to look at the dogwalk! We had to start with just that--looking at it. Mind you, I was armed with a clicker and real turkey!
In our second session he actually got on the dogwalk backwards and was in a 2o2o with his back feet on the ground. Needless to say, at least I know that this training is the way to go! Poor guy has had no idea what the end behavior has been all this time.