Monday, August 30, 2010

Manners Minder

 the incredible, edible (sort of) training treat dispenser.

Who knew this tool would be so powerful. We have only had ours for a few days. Reese knew what it was and how it worked because our agility trainer has been kind enough to let us use hers during some of our lessons.

I still showed it to Reese and dispensed a few treats for free so she could make sure it was in fact the same thing, sans the A-frame.

For those of you not familiar with the Manners Minder, kibble or treats are put into the machine and dispensed using a remote control. There is a beep first as a marker to let the dog know they provided the desired response and that there is a treat on the way - just like when a clicker is used. The difference here is that the trainer doesn't have to be right there next to the dog.

I bought the Manners Minder to work on a number of things with Reese.

1. Her seperation anxiety when I leave her in the crate in the car, or leave the house at a non-work time. When I leave for work she is used to the routine and it is not normally a problem.

2. Reese doesn't care for skateboards. Especially the noise they make when they are getting popped up and flipped and spun around like the teenager a few houses away likes to do, right in front of our house - of course.

3. People walking by the house with or without a dog. Reese could care less if we are outside and someone walks by, she just looks at them and goes about her business. But...if she is inside then she doesn't like it. 

4. See #3 above, this includes pesky critters. Squirrel and rabbit hotdish anyone!!

So the first day we had it, what should appear but the magical flying skateboard with a teenage boy onboard....

Reese heard the noise of the skateboard and started to bark and jump at the window. 

Fade in....."the Manners Minder".

Put the Manners Minder on the floor in the living room away from the window. When Reese stopped barking for a few seconds, I pushed the button "beep" and a treat appeared. Hmmm, Reese looked at the machine, stayed quiet and I pushed the button again. Reese bounced over to the Manners Minder and ate the treats. She went back to the window and looked out but only barked a few more times, when she stopped barking I dispensed another treat etc. After about three times barking she watched Joe Skateboarder out the window calmly but did not bark. Beep=treat, beep=treat, beep=treat. Good girl!

The next day a white rabbit appeared out of its hole. Okay, so it hopped into the yard - just seeing if you are really paying attention here. I did the same thing as above but Reese only barked at the rabbit once, after she received the first treat from the Manners Minder she watched the rabbit calmly and did not bark.

We have done this same thing a lot in the past but with me using a clicker and dispensing the treats personnally but apparently I am not as "good as a machine". For one thing Reese never really ever heard the clicker. But apparently, when it is this cool thing giving the treats learning happens much faster. Because tonight this is what happened after only the two experiences discussed above.

A squirrel was in the yard across the street, yes still Reese's yard according to her calculations. She saw the squirrel, barked and ran to the ......

Manners Minder sitting on the shelf. She jumped up to it and looked for a treat:)). I put it on the floor and gave her a treat.

Good Girl!  I went over to the window and talked about the squirrel and tried to get her to come and look at it again. So that she could choose to react and bark or not.

This is all I got....
"Naaa, I'll just wait here, there's gotta be another treat coming soon.....
squirrels are stupid anyway."

All I can say is I wish we would have gotten this tool a long time ago! 

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