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Goat Diaries Blog by Alexandra Kurland - Printable Version

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RE: Goat Diaries Blog by Alexandra Kurland - Sanhestar - 03-24-2018

Actually, I would mix the grain with the other treats. So the surprise factor is even higher, because you cannot influence it (or give subtle cues that you are going to offer grain after the next click).

RE: Goat Diaries Blog by Alexandra Kurland - Nanno - 04-05-2018

I found another treat besides grain that is adding interest to our cookie bag. I realized there dozens of different types of breakfast cereal that come in bulk bags so they're very inexpensive. I picked one of them to try and it went over very well! I wonder if I were to pick a different one every few weeks if it would add elements of surprise and curiosity to keep Finn's interest piqued.

We let our training drop off a cliff the last couple of weeks because we've been busy and the weather hasn't been great on the days when we had time. But I spent a little time with Finn and Sputnik this afternoon and did some review. Sputnik was way too excited to accomplish much. I wanted to work on his collar manners, but he had other ideas and spent most of his time dragging away from me and then standing there wondering why he wasn't rewarded for this behavior. We worked on it just a little and then I gave up and put him back outside.

Finn and I reviewed targets. He did very well but was also over-excited. It will help if we do this more often so we can have more routine and less circus. At one point Finn forgot himself and in his eagerness to touch a target that wasn't yet placed he jumped on me. He's WAY too big to be doing that kind of thing! I need to try to come up with a lesson plan and stick to it so we can work on specific things and not just fly by the seat of our pants. I also need to have end goals in mind so I can make sure I'm teaching the behaviors I actually want.

RE: Goat Diaries Blog by Alexandra Kurland - Sanhestar - 04-05-2018

all that, too, is part of the learning courve for you and the goats. Good for you that you rather decided to end the lesson instead of keeping on and on. Every time they can practise an unwanted behaviour, this behaviour will re-occur.

Have you thought about protected contact?

And, as I have just yesterday - again - learned: it takes thousands of repetitions of a behaviour - in different contexts - until it can be considered solid and fluid.

RE: Goat Diaries Blog by Alexandra Kurland - Nanno - 04-06-2018

We actually did do some protected contact for a few minutes but it didn't go well. Sputnik was just too excited and he started rearing up and putting his feet on top of the gate, which is a huge no-no (and he knows it). So I left him alone and worked with Finn instead. Finn was better behaved than Sputnik that day so we did more things.

The only place we can have protected contact is over our patio gates. Yesterday was an exception because only Finn and Sputnik were near the house. Finn was in the patio so I was able to work with Sputnik a little over the gate. But usually I can't work with a goat over those gates because all the other 10 or more goats swarm around and mob for treats. This is a recipe for disaster right now because several of my girls are heavily pregnant and if any of them try to come near for goodies, Sputnik or Finn will ram them hard to get them away, so I have to be very careful about feeding over the patio gate right now.

I think those little cereal bits are a huge hit. Smile

RE: Goat Diaries Blog by Alexandra Kurland - Nanno - 04-16-2018

It's been a couple of weeks since we've been able to work with our boys. Too much going on around here lately! But this morning Sputnik and I had a really good session. I worked with him on leading by the collar. It didn't start out well and we weren't getting anywhere, so I changed to a leash and tried some different things to get him to willingly come over and stand beside me. With the leash attached, when he charged off and pulled the collar out of my hand, I could let him go but still guide him back where I wanted and then reward him. Pretty soon I was able to ditch the leash and we worked on weaving around the patio with my hand on his collar. He went from pulling away from me to leaning into me, neither of which was right. But with some patience we eventually walked all over the patio on a loose collar hold. It wasn't perfect, but it was an improvement. Part of it was toning down his excitement in the beginning. One of the problems with taking a long break from training is that they can get too wound up to pay attention when you start up again. But this time we were able to work through the excitement phase and Sputnik eventually got into a frame of mind to be able to figure out what I wanted.

Then we did a little target training. It was going very well and I was working on getting Sputnik not just to touch the target but to follow it around as I moved it. Then Finn, who had been watching us the entire time, suddenly snorted, spooked violently, and bolted off around the corner and out of sight. I didn't see what spooked him. Perhaps he just suddenly realized that all the other goats were gone. But in any case, it sure rattled Sputnik! He had a hard time focusing after that and kept looking for the whatever-it-was that scared Finn (we never did find it). I decided to end the session, but as soon as I put Sputnik off the patio, he turned around and begged for more training time. So I worked with him just a little more from across the gate. I put a mat down on the ground and had him step on it when I pointed to it. Then I'd have him move off the mat to touch a target. It was just simple stuff to make sure we ended on a good note.

The other day Phil had Finn balancing up on a high log and following a stick up and down the log for a target. That was fun!

RE: Goat Diaries Blog by Alexandra Kurland - Sanhestar - 04-16-2018

well done!

A short note on the moving target vs. stationary target.

Often - in horses - you will see frustration and the beginning of "chasing" behaviour when you switch fron a stationary to a moving target and use the same target/same behaviour (touch the target) for these different behaviours.

To avoid that you can either use a different target (size, shape, colour) for the moving bevhaviour - were the touching which prompts the click and treat will be delayed for quite while.

Or you teach "follow but do not touch when target is moving but touch when target is stationary" with the same target.

In both cases a teaching process to make the difference clear to the animal: which behaviour is wanted and will be reinforced is necessary. The best way is to teach that a moving target is to be followed with a fixed distance to the target but not touched.

Did I explain that good enough? I'm not quite awake, yet.

RE: Goat Diaries Blog by Alexandra Kurland - Nanno - 04-17-2018

I did the "follow but not touch" technique with Sputnik. He didn't seem confused or frustrated by it at all. After moving the target, I would stop it and let him touch it before I clicked and rewarded. Sort of a "follow the target till it stops" game.

RE: Goat Diaries Blog by Alexandra Kurland - Sanhestar - 04-17-2018

it might work differently for goats than for horses. Almost every horse I hear of is getting frustrated with a moving target when there is no clear distinction between the two behaviours.

Let's see how you two will progress, it would be interesting to learn if goats perceive this game differently.

RE: Goat Diaries Blog by Alexandra Kurland - Nanno - 04-18-2018

Sputnik doesn't get frustrated easily with training except in two scenarios. One: I'm taking things in steps too small for his quick brain and he gets frustrated with me ("Get to the point, lady!"). Two: He can't figure out what I'm asking after several tries, in which case he tends to get frustrated with himself. Neither of these happens very often now that I know his learning style.

Finn is the one more likely to get frustrated, which usually shows in boredom or loss of interest in the exercise. Finn is more likely to walk off, lay down, or lean in for a scratch when he gets frustrated, while Sputnik is more likely to work himself into a tizzy and start running in circles and offering various tricks I didn't ask for.

I'm fairly well convinced that horses aren't quite as intelligent as goats, and that's probably why they have a harder time learning to follow a moving target. Although I can't imagine my horse Jet getting frustrated with that transition either. But then, it's hard to imagine Jet getting frustrated with anything ever. He's a pretty mellow guy and very, very clever.

RE: Goat Diaries Blog by Alexandra Kurland - Nanno - 04-18-2018

Probably the best thing we learned from these diaries by far is the lesson "Feed where the perfect goat would be." It's a great reminder that teaches the goats not to step in close and mob for goodies. It's one of those things we know, but it's easy to get lazy and forgetful about it. I find myself repeating it often to myself and Phil when we are working with our boys.