Sit was the first cue that Ruby learned as a pup. I was reading When Pigs Fly at the time and I learned there are many ways to get a behavior – luring, free-shaping, targeting, molding and capturing. I decided to capture sit since he was sitting on his own when I prepared food in the kitchen.
Capturing simply means you observe the dog in day to day life and click when he does the behavior you would like to put on cue. At first the dog won’t know what you’re clicking, but with time he will offer that behavior more and more often and eventually you can start saying the cue when you see signs that he’s about to do it. Capturing takes patience.
Ruby sat several times each day, so that was a good start. There was only one catch: our kitchen had slippery floor. He was sitting by folding his rear feet and walking back with front feet, usually sliding across the kitchen floor as he did that. You get what you reward. To this day he will sit down by walking back with front feet, though luckily he usually won’t slide back 😉
Since I don’t compete in obedience this was not more than occasional inconvenience… Like when I tried to set him up at precisely the correct distance from the first jump and I couldn’t get him to sit right there… He had to move back a step first 🙂
Lately though I have been thinking about jumping a lot and how getting close to the jump just before a take off involves a similar movement as a tucked sit (dog keeps front feet planted while moving rear feet under him to sit down – this is the preferable way of sitting for obedience). I find that sometimes training one skill gives dog a hint about how to solve a related problem and I figured it was worth a try. So my training attempts began.
6 ways to teach a tucked sit
- Luring with food – this is most commonly used method, but it was not working. Ruby is not a food-crazy dog and won’t glue his nose to the treat while his butt hits the floor – he says he can do one or the other, but not both.
- Backing up briskly, then cueing sit – nope, he still sat back
- Having him sit in a shoe box cover – prevents walking back, but doesn’t get quite the right movement, he is still rocking back to sit instead of bringing his rear feet forward
- Sit with front feet on a target – would probably work, but it would take some time before he would really “glue” front feet to the target, despite getting the cue to sit.
- Sit on top of a bucket – this could work, except the bucket was a little slippery
- Sit on top of the box we use for 2o2o – bingo! It’s not slippery & he has been heavily reinforced for putting his rear feet up there in the past!
As a bonus it’s easy to also teach a kick-back stand at the same time (front feet stay glued to the floor while rear feet move backwards into stand). I cue “vstani” (get up) immediately followed by “nazaj” (back up) and reward immediately as the rear feet get off the box. If I would wait any longer then front feet would move as well.
My plan is to select for stillness of front feet for both behaviors and switch to a lower box, then to a mat of the size of the box and finally just the ground. Will this help his jumping? I have no idea. But I’m having fun teaching it 🙂
Special thanks to Anna Rudensjö for brainstorming training ideas with me in the middle of the night 😉
Do you know of another way of teaching a tucked sit? I would be interested in learning about it!