Still hanging in there after the first two posts of this series? Great!
If you’ve been playing along with the exercises in the previous post, and all seems to be going well – your dog is correctly stationed and waiting while you do your behavior demonstrations, and then responding to whatever verbal cues he knows for the various behaviors, and you’ve repeated sessions several times so it all looks very easy, go ahead and do the following to check your dogs understanding of mimicry so far:
First, do about 2-3 repetitions of your basic pattern so far: station the dog, perform the behavior, cue “Your turn!”, cue behavior. Is your dog keen and eager and quick to perform? (Wait another day or so if he seems tired or not into training.)
If all is well, then for the next behavior, station then dog, perform the behavior, cue “Your turn!” and…pause. Maybe 1 or 2 seconds. It’s very likely that you’ll see the dog begin to initiate the behavior. Mark instantly, once you see the initiation – don’t, for example, wait until the dog has completed the entire “spin” before marking. You want the dog to know instantly that he’s right, after taking this leap of faith in performing on just the mimic cue.
If your 1-2 seconds go by, and the dog is still stationed, go ahead and cue the behavior, and reward just like normal. Then move on to the next behavior, but again pause after the “Your turn!” Again, mark right away once you see the dog begin to do the behavior.
Repeat. The dog should soon be confidently copying your movements on your cue “Your turn!” Remember, this is all still with behaviors that your dog has already been trained and already knows how to do. You’ll learn how to introduce a brand-new behavior…soon…