The Cheeses are making the most of Kitten School. Bleu has started learning to skateboard.
I wish I had started training when I was a youngster.
Anyway, U.H. made a video of one of the morning skateboard lessons. I’ll let Robin tell you about what they are doing after you watch a little of the video.
Bleu and I started working with the skateboard in mid-August when that cool video of Didga the cat was circulating on Facebook and Twitter. Lots of our friends sent the video to us and challenged the Cheeses and me to get on the skateboard too. I read that it took Didga and his trainer about a year and a half to put together the cool ride we see in the video.
This piece of information also gave me a lot of satisfaction about how far Bleu progressed on the board in the first week of training!
We worked with a training technique called shaping. I put the skateboard in the middle of the room, and clicked (reinforced) Bleu every time he interacted with the board. On the first day he got up on it and sat down. Woo Hoo!!! The next day, he pushed off and rolled the board — woo hoo NOT — and scared himself. He got clicked for pushing off and ate the treat when he came back in the room… I wondered if Bleu would go on the board next time I got it out or if he was done because it moved (he didn’t much like it that the roomba moved, so I had a precedent.)
Next day, he got right back on. Yay!
We are a couple of weeks into training and establishing voice and hand cues for the things Bleu does with and on the board. I learned a lot about my training technique by watching the video. For example, I realized with this video session that I’m saying, “let’s skate” both when I’d like him to get on the board and when he starts moving. I’m going to switch to “let’s roll” for the moment the skateboard is going to roll. He needs one voice cue for each behavior. If he doesn’t know what I really mean, he will get confused. At least I would.
We are having a lot of fun with the skateboard. I think Bleu is already a better skater than I am!