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Thread: Attention span of a goldfish!

  1. #1
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    Default Attention span of a goldfish!

    I need some tips on how to keep Pip's attention while we are training. I have been luring her into positions, and that has worked a bit, but as I try to get her to do the action without luring, she looks at me like I'm a moron :P For instance, for "down" I only have to move my hand in a direction and she will do it, but if I stand up and say "down" she doesn't understand - obviously not connecting the word with the action, despite me saying it when she does it.

    When I am standing, trying to get her to do something, I will sometimes show her a treat to get her attention, this works for a while - even if she doesn't understand me, she is at least interested, but after a few seconds, she wanders off, distracted by something, looses interest in the food - regardless of what tasty morsel it is.

    She does the same when we go for walks (though currently still stuck in the house with her stitches) We walk, if she starts to pull, I stop, she stops, before she has the chance to work out why we have stopped, she is off sniffing something, forgetting why it was she was hurrying to get home!

    So, point is, how do I hold her attention for long enough for her to learn anything?

  2. #2
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    Goldfish - like puppies - have excellent attention spans when it comes to food.

    So you need a really high rate of re-inforcement (delivery of treats) to get your point across. And it helps if puppy is hungry. But the food is not so exciting that the puppy can't think about anything else.

    So shaping - involves rewarding anything the puppy does and then gradually focussing onto behaviours that more closely resemble what you want. You don't add a "cue word" like sit - until after your puppy is reliably sitting for a treat. So I use the word "yes" to mean - "you've done what I want, you've earned a treat".

    So I start with puppy in a boring room on lead - so she can't nick off very far. And about a hundred tiny bits of something yummy.

    And I watch puppy, whatever she does - anything - I say "yes" and give her a bit of yummy. And I watch to see what she does next, and when she does something - I say "yes" and give her a treat. The idea is to be handing out treats every few seconds. eg 15 to 20 treats a minute. And then you stop and play - use a tug toy or just run around and play chase the boss (not the dog - important - do not play chase the dog).

    So if I want a sit, and anything the puppy does is more like the sit I want - then I "yes" that and give treat, and after that I only reward stuff that is progressively closer to a sit. And I give the reward "in position" ie so that the puppy is moving progressively closer to a sit position to get the treat. Ie don't reward so the dog has to move out of the sit position or nearly sit position to get the treat. So this might feel like luring, but the dog has to do something before they get the treat, and what happens between when you say "yes" and delivering the treat - becomes part of what the dog learns - so you have to set things up so that what you don't want is less likely and what you do want is more likely. Hence - starting with puppy on lead - so she can't nick off during a training session.

    Don't expect a puppy to stay focussed for longer than a minute or so. Even when you have the best treats. Break your sessions up into little bits like 30 seconds to a minute then free play then another 30 seconds... And allow your puppy to get confused and frustrated for short periods of time but think about how you can set things up so puppy is more likely to do what you want. It's ok to stop a training session when the puppy hasn't got it right. And it's great to have a play break party - the first time your puppy gets it right. Ie don't do what I like to do and try to get puppy to do the behaviour again straight away. Have a party then try to get the behaviour again. Otherwise - puppy thinks - I didn't get it right, I'll try something different.

    PS if puppy starts barking between "yes" and treat delivery - say oops and put the treat away until puppy stops barking... then yes- treat (get there before puppy can start barking). Unless you're teaching puppy to bark on command.

  3. #3

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    lol we trained one our fish to swim into the net when we have to clean the tank or move them that fish is long gone now with the rest of the fish its a wild goose chase and water going every were lol
    If you are reading this then you're doing just fine as to
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  4. #4
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    Thanks Hyacinth, I will start doing some of that today.

    I regret mentioning the fish! I feel I've insulted my goldfish - I have a bunch of fantails in a pond out in the garden, they are very well behaved and come when they are called!

  5. #5

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    fish will do any thing for foood lol her when you have the fish food your a fish magent you move thay follow lol like that tv movie lol
    If you are reading this then you're doing just fine as to
    I'm not going to tell ya I lost the ' , . ? ! " Keys to my head
    No grammar no problem I don't know how to fly it any way Bye

  6. #6
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    Fish are a lot smarter with a lot better attention spans than most give them credit for.

    There's a lot of myths about animals. ie that doves are peaceful - no they're not - not this time of year anyway.
    and that wolves are lots of things that aren't true. Wolves - among their own are a lot more peaceful than doves.

  7. #7
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    lol at the fish comments. I saw a report on Catalyst I think a few months ago where they tested the memory of goldfish and discovered they actually have pretty good memories.

    With the 'not getting it', just persist. There is no rule about how many times you lure before their penny drops. I found with Banjo, she got some things fairly fast and with others we never got past the 'empty hand luring' stage, though I must admit I also do trick training very irregularly. Just think, the more times you have to lure, the more exhilarated you will feel when she does finally get it.

    Do you use a clicker? I know you can use a marker word, but I found I was more accurate with a clicker for some reason. I think that might have had something to do with my attention span and lack of focus...

  8. #8
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    Yeah, I use a clicker - I got it for loose leash training, she is too little to treat as we walk, so the clicker works well as a bridge.

    I once had a goldfish that would come to the top of his tank and stay there waiting to be fed - the tank had a lid with only a little opening for food, so he clearly had to remember to do this - he would remind us to feed him. So far as I know, he is still alive and living in a friends pond in Ireland - we had to give him away when we moved and luckily he was a big fish, same as the others, so he was able to safely go into the pond. He's probably got children and all by now! lol

  9. #9
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    And hopefully there are no kookaburras or herons or shags in Ireland - the bane (fast end) of many a gold fish...

  10. #10
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    There are herons, but this pond has a wire meshover it to keep them out

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