Dogs Don’t Generalize

I’d heard this many times, and I understood it – dogs can’t generalize their training from one location to another, hence the reason you must start back at square one when you change locations.  Fair enough, I understand.  Holy criminey though, Inara REALLY doesn’t generalize.

I’m using the clicker to teach her to go to her mat on command.  I shaped the behavior with the clicker until she was going there reliably, then I added the cue, “mat.”  So I would then say “mat” as she was getting ready to step onto the mat.  When she laid down, I clicked/treated.  Awesome, I’m feeling like a genius trainer at this point.

So now I think, “gee, I need to shake things up a bit so I know she really knows it.” Yeah, she didn’t.  I stood up and moved about 2 feet away, she followed me.  I gave the cue “mat,” and she did everything but.  She sat, downed, tried to shake, played dead.  Rinse, repeat.  I ignored her and finally she went over to the mat – major click and treat.  So we do that a few times until I think she has it again.

I moved, she got confused.  I stood still but moved the mat, she got confused.  Both me and the mat stayed in the living room, but every time I moved or I moved the mat, confusion.  I was feeling less and less like a dog training genius by this point.  So we ended on a really good note and called it a night.

This clicker training stuff is hard.

Inara chewing on Mr. Piggy, a gift from her Secret Santa for Christmas in July.  Sadly, Mr. Piggy is already a dismembered, empty carcass.  But she's happy!
Inara chewing on Mr. Piggy, a gift from her Secret Santa for Christmas in July. Sadly, Mr. Piggy is already a dismembered, empty carcass. But she's happy!