Mail a Package
This is an advanced action which took some time to get all of the individual parts smoothly into a chain. I used a clicker as a bridge in teaching this.
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First, I needed a mailbox the right height for my Standard Poodles. A Standard Poodle with its front feet on a block that is seven to eight inches high can comfortably just reach the top of a mailbox whose highest point is 34-35 inches from the ground. (This is the type of mailbox where the lid pulls down from the top.)
Simultaneously, I worked on the following -- each in different sessions.
THE ACTION CHAIN:
FOUNDATION BEHAVIORS JYAH ALREADY KNEW:
Familiarity with clicker
When Jyah was proficient in each of these parts, I began linking them together.
SESSION: I had Jyah come to the mailbox, put his feet up on the block, pull the lid down with his foot, and drop the package onto the lid. Reward.
SESSION: I had Jyah come to the mailbox, put his feet up on the block, pull the lid down with his foot, drop the item onto the lid, and push it into the box with his nose. Reward.
SESSION: I had Jyah come to the mailbox, put his feet up on the block, pull down the lid with his foot, drop the item onto the lid, push it into the box with his nose, and push the lid up with his nose. Reward.
SESSION: I had Jyah come to the mailbox, put his feet up on the block, pull down the lid with his foot, drop the item onto the lid, push it into the box with his nose, push lid shut with nose, and go around to push the flag up with his nose. Reward.
At this point, the entire chain becomes the action that earns the reward.
SESSION: (We practiced these behaviors progressively.)
SESSION: In a separate session I had Jyah drop the package onto the open lid, and then push it into the mailbox with his nose. I did not want the package very far back inside the box as, in the movie, Sydney has to be able to easily reach the package since she does the reverse action -- pushes down the flag with her chin, steps up on the rock and pulls the lid down with her foot, gets the package, pushes up the lid with her nose while holding the package, and then carries the package out of camera frame.)
SESSION: In a separate session, I taught Jyah to close the mailbox lid. I started out having him target the lid of the mailbox with his nose when it was slightly ajar and clicking when he pushed it shut. Subsequently, I gradually left the lid open wider and wider so he had to push it up further to close it. Ultimately, I had the lid all the way open and would reward only when he had pushed it all the way shut.
SESSION: In a separate session, I would have Jyah target underneath the flag with his nose while it was about half-way raised. This was just a matter of rewarding only pushes that moved the flag upwards. I gradually lowered the flag to its full horizontal position and rewarded only those nose pushes that moved the flag all the way to its vertical position.
OCCASIONALLY I WILL REWARD ANY ONE OF THE BEHAVIORS WITHIN THE CHAIN TO KEEP ALL OF THE LINKS STRONG.
Right: Feet up on different objects to teach "hold" with "feet up."
Above and below:
Left and right:
Above: teaching push lid up with nose to close it.
Above: teaching push flag up with nose to vertical position.
Above: beginning of chain -- bring package to mailbox -- is taught last.
Jyah comes into camera frame carrying a package to the mailbox, steps up on a rock with his front feet, uses one foot to pull down the mailbox lid, deposits the package on the open lid, pushes the package into the box with his nose, uses his nose to push the lid shut, goes around to the side of the mailbox to nose up the flag, then leaves the camera frame.
HOW I TAUGHT JYAH TO MAIL A PACKAGE