For this week I’m going to assign some very basic homework that builds on the front two feet on a plate behavior and all four feet on a box. We are going to add backing up and going around cones. I have added videos which are looong, but you can refer to them if you need extra instruction.
- We’ve been working on the front two feet on a plate as an exercise at your side. For homework this coming week I want you to have two “plates” for the dog and after you reward the dog in place at the first plate in heel position send the dog to the next plate. Start with the second plate a little over one body length away and slowly build the distance.
- High five. Once your dog is really understanding that you like their front feet on the plate start to hold your plate higher and higher asking for one paw and then the other. Once your dog understands high five against the plate you can add the next exercise.
- This exercise let’s you take high five and reward duration for “lie down”. To start this exercise your dog should know how to lie down and high five. Lie the dog down and take a small plate and ask for the high five. Reward the smallest tries. Once the dog is happily high fiving then start to put the plate in a position where the dog is slightly crossing one paw over the other. Click and reward the slightest try and jackpot (extra special reward) improvements. I have never successfully taught the crossing paws behavior so that it is on command, but the process rewards the dog many times for staying in a down.
- In herding we are asking our dogs to get out of our pressure a lot during training. By teaching a back at home the dog learns to get out of our pressure and get rewarded with a toy or treat. At home step into your dog and “mark” any step back and reward with treat tossed between their front legs. At first just reward that first step of giving to pressure and then slowly build. Some dogs may already have the behavior around toys. Use toy play to reinforce the behavior if your dog is already offering it. For dogs that don’t give to pressure easily when we step into them build a narrow chute with the front blocked off. Toss a treat or toy to the end and then when the dog goes to get out and starts backing say back and “mark” the backing.
- Circling and object. We will be teaching the dogs to circle the cones in class, at home you can use chairs, table legs, or milk jugs. You are basically using what ever is handy. I name both directions (tight/wrap) in this behavior for use in agility. Since the object they are circling is not stock I do not use my herding words “come bye” and “away”. Just like all the other things we are teaching in class this exercise gives the dog multiple rewards for having their feet in the right place. The three videos show training the tight/wrap through luring and shaping and in Nero’s case he is showing you what we are building towards with this exercise.