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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Since I like to play "pouncing games" with him where I move objects around and he tries to slap his paws on them or pounce on them to get them, I decided to look more closely at what exactly he's doing and if it changes based on various conditions.

Some early things I noticed:

-He is trying to time movements. If I move an object in an predictable pattern with a reasonably similar delay, he seems to try to time his movement just at the end of that delay. Like if I grab his yellow nylabone and I move it to his right, wait two seconds, move it to his left, wait two seconds, then back right (and repeating until he makes his move), he will try to judge the two seconds and "attack" then.

-Sharp changes cause him to "reconsider" timing. If I do the above and then stop with the pausing (just left and right), he stops "attacking" and goes back to watching and tracking. At this point, it seems like he's trying to time when it reaches a certain position, whatever it is he is keying on before he "attacks" (what he is keying on is what I'm trying to figure out next...is it a "landmark"? is it lining up with a paw? between both paws? A subtle change in the movement of the object?)

-Doing the same pattern but going up and down seems to draw quicker "attacks". I thought this was interesting. If I do the left-wait-right-wait pattern, but go up and down, he's "attacking" much quicker. It seems he can judge height and height movement better.

-Movements have to pass some sort of 'threshold' to trigger quick "attacks". If I move the object slowly and barely - the object has to travel so far before he'll "attack" it. If I move it rapidly - he jumps it immediately. Is this relating to how he sees movement? Smaller movements are harder for him to detect until the object has moved so far and then he's like "hey you moved!" and jumps on it?

One thing I also found interesting is he seems especially good at tracking his red, white, and green toy that looks like a large jack. Considering dogs don't see red and green is different colors, does it mean he sees red and green as sharp contrasts to white, so he can still track the object easily? I do notice that he tends to lose it a little more if I move it around his brown bed, but on the blue rug, he's all over it.
 

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I question whether or not all dogs are red/green colour blind.

A lot of this is a combination of three things.

1. Dogs see at a higher frame rate than humans, hence why dogs tend to ignore tube TVs, but watch HD TVs. So a slow moving toy is moving even more slowly to a dog than it is to you.

2. Dogs have better peripheral vision than forward vision, humans are the opposite. So a toy moving in a straight line in forward vision is perceived differently than a toy bouncing around in peripheral vision.

3. Dogs have instincts towards chasing, chomping and chewing. (That's been modified in herding breeds, etc.) Kabota can and will watch me juggle toys with mild interest (yes, I have some odd talents), but once I engage his instincts, he wants those juggled toys, wants them bad.

Also, Wally's the Einstein of dogs. He's just working at a whole 'nother level most dog owners won't ever see.
 

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Google knows all. Dogs are color-blind just like some people are red/green colorblind. So, they can't see a difference, and depending on the shade, may see the colors as grey or some other shade of yellow or blue ... which might include similarity to brown? Their ability to discriminate shades of grey is better than ours, and their ability to see motion is better.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I question whether or not all dogs are red/green colour blind.

A lot of this is a combination of three things.

1. Dogs see at a higher frame rate than humans, hence why dogs tend to ignore tube TVs, but watch HD TVs. So a slow moving toy is moving even more slowly to a dog than it is to you.

2. Dogs have better peripheral vision than forward vision, humans are the opposite. So a toy moving in a straight line in forward vision is perceived differently than a toy bouncing around in peripheral vision.

3. Dogs have instincts towards chasing, chomping and chewing. (That's been modified in herding breeds, etc.) Kabota can and will watch me juggle toys with mild interest (yes, I have some odd talents), but once I engage his instincts, he wants those juggled toys, wants them bad.

Also, Wally's the Einstein of dogs. He's just working at a whole 'nother level most dog owners won't ever see.
Wally is totally a TV watcher...other night he saw a cat on the TV and then went out of the room after the cat went "out of the TV" and then was mystified when he didn't find a cat. I didn't realize a higher frame rate meant that something appears to be moving slower. I thought it meant his eyes would "skip fewer frames" so the movement is detected with increased precision. I actually expected the opposite to what I saw with the slow movement.

So that's why he was "attacking" when the toy was to his left and right - that's when he likely saw it the best? Or perhaps one eye could zone in one it when it's like 3/4 the way and then he strikes? Hmm...so it's a perception/"I see it clearly! Pounce!" thing. Cool.

I did notice one way to get the toy to "escape" - Go from on the ground to quickly up and towards behind his head. I've noticed he'll lose track of it, and of course, behind his head he can't see it. I do have to be careful not to move the air near his head much or touch any hair (including my shirt sleeves) because that would give it away.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
How do dogs value different objects?

The main one I've heard is reward history - but I don't think that applies since we play with all of his toys (play is self-rewarding as well as a rewarding social interaction so it would count), trained with lots of objects, or sometimes a new object will get his attention more than the known rewarded ones.

I was holding out on the "eat it" cue before dinner. Needless to say he was grrrrr-ing and high pitch moaning and all that. Then he started throwing objects around. He grabbed a bone first and flung it behind him. Then he shook a rabbit skin. I picked up the rabbit skin and took it. He jumped up (trying to climb me it seemed) to get the skin. I didn't give it to him and he didn't go for any other toys. So I pointed out the other toys. He did grab it and threw it. But he really wanted that rabbit skin.

He did get the rope bone and he started tugging with it and throwing it on the floor and stuff.

What is it about the rabbit skin today that made him ignore the rest of the toys? He doesn't normally do that.

Another situation - let's say I put out all the objects I know he likes (but not the white dumbbell because he doesn't play with that since we use it only for training) all the same distance away from him. What determines which toy he'll get? The one he values/likes the most? Or something else? Now if I put a bunch of unknown-to-him objects, all the same distance again. What determines which one he'll go for first? What influences that decision?
 

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I've noticed two motivations with Shep: Prey drive and puppy history. If something isn't related to food or prey, then Shep will go after toys that are similar to things he played with as a puppy... he'll also decide what to play with based on mood... if he wants to play tug or to be chased or to play fetch, then he will go find the appropriate toy. And, yes, he has specific toys that he can use to request a specific play session.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Maybe yellow is favorite color? A couple days ago, I got him a rubber duck and he fell in love with it immediately for doG only knows what reason. He chased the thing around, was super eager for me to throw it, etc.

So - thinking it is the color, I got him some yellow small tennis balls (made for dogs so the fuzz doesn't hurt his teeth) and he loves it. I mean, even more than other balls or anything else. Charging after it, etc. Is it possible that it is the color? Something about yellow? (He can see it the best?) Or...if not...what is it? Because he's literally different with these two toys.
 

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Clearly possible! As a young puppy, Shep had a yellow chewtoy/pulltoy. Eventually he destroyed it and I replaced with a similar colored toy that he also liked. Years later, if he sees a yellow box in the trash, then he gets interested :) Otherwise, he normally ignores the trash.
 

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Clicker Question:
My niece just adopted a 3 mos Pointer/Lab mix. He is very intelligent, so I suggested clicker training. I showed her some basic training, but my abilities (timing ) with clickers are pretty poor, and I don't want her to to pick up my bad habits.

I'm very impressed with what you've done with Wally, especially considering his abused background. Got some references, links, suggestions that I can pass to my niece as she waits for a clicker class to open up? Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
I think the #1 thing is to work on observing and timing. Using some really simple behaviors works for this (in this case, you're training yourself and less the dog - or at least as much you as the dog). For example, if doing this with sit - I try to notice the beginning of the actual movement. So when I see him starting to settle into a sit and lowering his rear end, I mark and reward. It sounds "early" but by the time the click comes out, his butt is on the ground, so it's right on time. If I wait until he's sitting, I'm more likely to be late. Granted - dogs are 'forgiving' but for me it was good to look for that start of the action. That seemed to jive more with how Wally thinks. As she works with her dog, she'll notice these sorts of things and making adjustments as well. Another reason good observation helps.

The #2 thing that helped me was teaching the concept first, especially if going the shaping route. Getting Wally in the mindset to just go ahead and try SOMETHING was the start of everything. The 101 Things With a Box game is for that or you can just use your hand and if he looks at it, click/treat, sniffs, etc. Just getting him to do anything on anything to get him in the groove. Put some peanut butter on it - anything.

The #3 thing was to teach Wally some basic behaviors first (using whatever R+ style method). The more things he knew, the more things he had to try, the more likely he'll try something that worked before. Then going back to #2, he offered those behaviors he learned, giving me more to click and giving him more feedback that "yes, trying things gets you things".

Now some of these were because of Wally's background. An eager dog might not need #2 because he's already curious about whatever or naturally pro-active, etc. So you can just run with that using some beginning things (I would still recommend doing some games similar to the box one just to teach the concept) to get the game and the meaning of the clicker in his mind.

Once Wally was past the mental blocks and fell in love with the idea, it was time to train me again. That's when I learned what shaping was and learning (still learning) how to do it. That was the next phase of my "information overload". Clicker Solutions was one site I probably wore out :) And here's Karen Pryor's site

Some videos I wish I had found back then that might help her:




If there's anything I missed, etc, let me know. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
For his birthday, mom got Wally three balls - a BLUE (I mean it's blue blue) ball, a bright yellow one, and a green one with spikes on it.

He's all over the yellow ball - except at night (interesting). The BLUE ball was the one that he saw easily at night. I would intentionally throw in a direction he's not expecting and when he didn't see it, I would ask him "where's the ball?" He does that look around at his feet and back at me like "I dunno!" Then I tell him "Go find the ball". With super blue ball at night, he was able to find it and realize he found it. With the mini-tennis ball, he's less able to do that. Haven't tried with the bright yellow one or the green spiky one yet.

He did find the green one inside easily, probably because of the texture/shape. Will be interesting when I try it out on the grass outside. Will he (or me for that matter) be able to find it.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
We were working on this at one point. Was trying to teach him the difference between azul (blue) and amarillo (yellow).

Might have to start this up again, especially now that I have two objects that are the same except for the color.
 
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