Dog training primarily involves Operant Conditioning. Operant Conditioning is when behavior is controlled by consequences. Behavior occurs, reward is given. When that happens over and over, the behavior becomes a habit, and is now "learned". It requires timing, a concrete idea of what the final behavior should look like, and lots of repetitions.
Classical Conditioning on the other hand occurs when an association is created between an environment or situation, and a reward. The dog gets a reward whenever they are in a certain environment or situation, and eventually that environment or situation becomes a positive one. It requires lots of reward, and a conscious effort to reward no matter what the dog is "doing".
Kimchi has been improving in agility, slowly but surely learning the game, and getting better at reading my cues and handling.
But while our "running" has improved, she has hit a roadblock with the teeter and dogwalk. She's always had trouble with them, not because of fear, but out of confusion. She LOVES the teeter, and drives to the end. But sometimes she would hit the "tip" point on the dogwalk, get panicked, and jump off. We suspect it's her eyesight, and her inability to "know" which obstacle she's getting on. It was always worse in new locations and on new equipment. So I decided to babysit the entry to the teeter and dogwalk, until she became more confident on those obstacles.
The opposite happened, and she started to avoid both obstacles. She would run up to the obstacle, then run past it at the last minute. When called back, she would get right back on, and complete the obstacle just fine. It was worse on the dogwalk, but it would happen on the teeter when there were lots of bags anchoring the base underneath.
My instructor suggested going back to "baby dog" steps, and while Kimchi was out of sight, loaded the upside of the dogwalk with visible treats on every slat and a few on the flat. Then we walked Kimchi towards the dogwalk and let her "find" it on her own. Remember, no behavior being learned, but rather an association being created.
Being a Pug, she spotted the treats quickly, and followed the treats up and over the obstacle. We spent about 15 minutes doing nothing but letting her find treats on the upboard, over and over and over.
By the end of the session, we couldn't keep her off the dogwalk. She broke away from me a few times, to run over and run up the board and get her treats.
A few days later I took her to another location, kept her in crate while I loaded the dogwalk, then just walked her out on the course. She made a beeline to the dogwalk immediately and ran up and over. I had the space reserved for 30 minutes, and it became 30 minutes of Kimchi running from every corner of the room to run up and over the dogwalk. I literally couldn't keep her off of it.
Which is perfectly fine with me. If we get to the next trial and she takes off from the startline to get on the dogwalk, I will be delighted. I know, with time, she'll get back to doing her job. But for now, having her like the dogwalk, and willingly get on the board the first time, is the priority.
Thank you to Stacy Bols for helping me figure this Pug out!!!