Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Platform

As requested, this post will be talking about what was gone over in Michele Pouliot's lab on the Platform. The lab was focused primarily on getting the dogs onto the platform, building value for it, and then getting them to understand the exact position for the respective sport while on it.

You begin by initially just clicking when the dog shows interest in the platform. If you have a dog who's already used to hopping up on things, say for example you do some of the core conditioning stuff, then you'll progress faster. Once the dog is showing interest in the platform, you increase your criteria and wait for the dog to put one foot on it. You continue to build up to the point where the dog gets all four feet on the platform. Prior to doing this, you need to have decided what the default behavior on the platform should be for the dog, i.e. sit, down, stand. Once the dog is getting all four feet on the platform, you start clicking for your default position.

As the dog gains understanding of what is expected while on the platform, you build up the drive for the platform. You want to make it a high value thing for the dog to be on there. She used the example that you want them so excited to get on the platform that they're practically climbing it as you're putting it onto the ground. Bess in particular will do this with our taped up phone book that I use for front pivots. She gets very excited when she sees it come out. Part of building up this drive is to have a rapid rate of reinforcement. You don't want the dog to put one paw on the platform, and then pause before putting the second one on. You want to do a rapid rate of reinforcement, so that they are really eager to take the next step and they're really ramping up their energy level to get into position.

Once the drive for the platform is built, you start calling the dog into the positions that you will actually use, i.e. front or heel. You can use as many platforms as you feel are needed to hit all the positions that you want. The dog is then driving into correct position, with you in correct position, and getting rewarded for it.

From here you can add in some distance work to get them holding in position. You can walk away. You can run away. You can go hide behind something. Essentially you're proofing the dog staying in THAT position.

As far as how to progress into removing the platforms, that wasn't gone over very much. Michele used her newest dog as the one example given. In her DVD Step Up to Platform Training, she said that she shows an unedited clip of what happened the very first time that she took one of the platforms away (I haven't watched the DVD so I don't actually know how it went). From what I gather, the dog had built up such a solid understanding of what the position was that she caught on pretty quickly that the position was the same with or without the platform. Eventually she got to a point where she was only doing platform work once a week with her puppy to continue reinforcing the behavior.

She did also mention that this puppy was the first dog that she purposefully did NOT teach a moving heel to. The dog developed such a reinforced idea of what heel position was, that the behavior carried over really well to beautiful heel work. Michele said that even she was blown away by it.


K-Koira said...

Thanks! It just clicked when I was reading this post that a platform is probably going to be the best way to teach Koira a stand stay for her Stand for Exam. Right now I have done so much pivot work with her that she moves with me like we do then. I bet working a ton with platforms would help solve that though!

Ximena said...

Platforms are definitely super easy to remove. I think it's mostly because the ground isn't that far away for the dog -- who knows, really. Elli loves her platform, too. :) She totally hates being told to Off: she zooms around the room and hops back on the platform lol.

Here are some ideas for what you can do with platforms/stools or whathaveyou: http://youtu.be/85cG12op15E