Sunday, December 26, 2010

Been Awhile

Life has a habit of getting in the way of things I'm doing and documenting our training has been one of the things to suffer. The training/teaching itself has continued but finding time to write it up has been difficult to say the least.

Our weather has been rainy and nasty so there's been a lot more time spent hanging out on the couch and playing "what is it?" I have toys and food and show one to Ranger and ask him "What is it?" He signs toy or food and is right way more often than chance; In fact he seldom makes a mistake. Maybe I need to get an observer to count how many times I ask the question and how many times he gets it right. I have noticed that mistakes are more common after we've been playing for awhile.

It interests me that it doesn't matter which toy it is he signs "toy." I don't know if that means he has a generic category labeled Toy and meaning "things I can play with" or if he's simply dividing it into things he can eat and things he can't eat. I'm going to have to offer him some non-toy items and how he reacts when asked to identify them. Perhaps I should work on teaching him the sign he can use to ask for the sign for an item so he can use that as a sort of "I don't know." I'll have to think about that.

Ranger has also invented his own sign. The pawing the air twice with the right paw means he wants petting. Interestingly it is always twice not one or three but two pawings of the air. It seems to me that he uses this request for petting with clear intention. I haven't tired "saying" it to him. I'll have to try that and see how he responds. It's lots of fun and quite interesting working on cross species communication like this. It helps a lot that I have a dog that knows he can communicate to people and have them respond appropriately.