Measuring Successes In String Cheese
A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post and made two videos about teaching loose leash walking. My method for teaching loose leash walking is based around using a high rate of reinforcement to shape the leash manners. Whenever we are using a high rate of reinforcement we go through lots of treats and even if they are teeny-tiny. The process of teaching the loose leash walk training will also involve reducing the rate of reinforcement as the dog is successful.
This absolutely leads me to start evaluating my progress and successes in number of treats I need to be successful with whatever we are working on. I think it’s important to track my rate of reinforcement so I can tell when I’m improving and moving forward with needing fewer treats for various behaviors. When things are going well, it’s also a nice bit of positive reinforcement for me for all of my hard work.
When I first started my loose leash walking work with Loki, it was taking me more than 2 full string cheeses to make it around our block and even that had moments of pulling (remember, we only started walking around the block after practicing in the driveway and in front of the house). Yesterday when taking him for his walk around the block we made it around with only 3/4’s of a string cheese which was fantastic! I didn’t realize how much progress he’d made in just a handful of walks (he doesn’t get walks daily around the block we do lots of adventures where I manage the pulling using a front-clip harness).
Sometimes we all, as handlers, fall into the trap of not noticing the improvements in our dogs behavior and it can be easy to become frustrated. Being able to measure improvements in a tangible or concrete manner is so helpful for humans who live with and work with dogs on a daily basis.
I use string cheese to measure some successes, I may use journaling behavior to measure other successes, it might track the number of reactions in a week (or the threshold distance), or I could use video reviews to measure other successes. No matter how I’m measuring success, it’s important that I take time to reflect on the work I’ve been doing–
How do you reflect on your training or measure your successes?