I’ve been playing around with my new poodle (I am training him to be a guide dog for the blind) and seeing how I can cause him to figure things out on his own.
He has been with me for about three weeks and has learned so much, so fast and so well… that he is coming up close to my dogs that have been with me for a few months. This is thanks to allowing him to figure things out “on his own”. I’m just there to confirm his decisions.
He’s learned so many things, but one that was really amazing was his ability to figure out the concepts of going left and right when I ask him to. This usually takes a little bit of time for a dog to learn and do correctly regularly. In the past, I was able to teach most of my dogs the commands left and right fairly fast, but it might have to be followed through with a tap from the leash as support. So they would learn it soon, but need support for a while until they just did it on there own every time.
With my poodle, it’s been the opposite. Just a little bit of well-timed support in the beginning and he learned it very fast. So we would stand somewhere and I’d ask him to go left (purely vocal, no body language). He would think for a second and then sort of look to the left. I’d say, “Yeah, yeah, yes… Yep!” Like a game of hotter or colder. The more he turned his head and then his body, the more I would agree with that decision. Just him turning his head was correct and then hearing that very affirmative voice from me, he knew he was on the right track and went left.
He picked it up within two days. This applies with all animals under any circumstance. It’s all about rewarding or correcting that thought right as it surfaces or maybe even before it surfaces if we can catch it then…