Dear Blog Reader,
I’m glad you asked me how I taught Figure 8 Backwards because I had no idea what I was going to write about today! Tomorrow is D-day for our vet adventure and it was good to get distracted by thinking about tricks.
So, figure 8! Backwards! I learned this from Silvia Trkman in puppy school five years ago. It’s a combination of walking backwards and pivoting to left and right heel positions with some luring in between. I don’t know if this is the same way she teaches it now, but it works for me and I like it. As a bonus there is also teaching circling backwards around the handler since this is where our conversation started.
I have long admired Emily Larlham for her excellent training advice and the multitude of free videos that she produced for her YouTube channel kikopup. A few weeks ago a friend told me she is producing a set of DVDs with Tawzer Dog and needs videos of hunting breeds recalling from prey. Ruby and Java to the rescue! Well, only Java since Ruby is not allowed to run.
I emailed Emily and it turned out there is a variety of tasks she needs filmed and has already got more than 50 offers to help from people around the world. Still, she was excited to feature a whippet and so our filming begun.
I don’t think that Java is ready for recalling from live prey yet. I’m sure she would recall from birds, but since I’m teaching her to ignore birds I don’t want to deliberately put her in a situation where she would go after them. Instead, we filmed recall from a furry toy, which is part of the training for recall from prey. Java was fantastic, she turned back to me in a heartbeat. Some day we’ll have to repeat this with a piece of dried tripe dragging on the ground. We’ll see how that goes 😉
We also filmed walking on loose leash toward a bowl full of treats. We had only one problem: Java was too good and didn’t pull much. How do you demonstrate a loose leash walking exercise if the dog doesn’t pull? She wanted those treats and was trying sooooo hard to be a good girl so she would get them.
Ruby got to demonstrate how to close a closet door with his nose. This took quite a bit of training because he was previously taught to close the door with paws and he had to “forget” that first. He was very happy to have a real job again 🙂
Yesterday I filmed both dogs doing cue discrimination. I was saying a mix of Left, Right, Sit and Down without hand signals to see how well they know their verbal cues. I expected Ruby to be 100% successful, but Java has never discriminated among so many cues before. We did Left/Right which she understands very well and Sit/Down which she gets correctly 80-90% of the time (because I find Sit/Down discrimination boring), but putting it together makes the challenge a lot harder. She was a star! It looks like Emily will use this clip on one of her DVDs. I’m so excited 🙂
Java turned 5 months old on Sunday and after some persuasion from a friend I made a video to remember this month by. I’m so happy I did. Thank you, Monika!
In the last two weeks Java’s focus on toys has grown exponentially. In just a few days we went from doing a few retrieves at a time in the apartment to going outside and having to hold myself back from throwing a toy too many times because she wanted to go on and on.
We are finishing our puppy class next week and a lot of behaviors on the video were taught as a part of puppy class program, most notably heeling, which I just love 🙂 Some other games were added to teach self-control and of course the start of agility foundations tricks.
This is a cross post from our YouTube channel. If you already saw the video, feel free to skip down to see the photos.
I was teaching Java to put her head down on cue, but when I noticed that she’s rocking her hips forward as she does this I thought this would be a good way to teach the Frog trick (lying on her belly with hind legs fully extended behind her). She quickly caught on to what I wanted and within three minutes we had a frog! Well, at least with one leg. I shaped extending of the other leg the next day and she got it in just a few clicks. Love my girl!
Here’s what it looks like now:
A look from behind, just for fun 🙂
And some bonus photos of Ruby and Java:
Such a pretty boy! I love Ruby’s eyes on this photo.
Puppy thinking this posing gig isn’t as much fun as people make it out to be 🙂
Thanks to Mateja for these wonderful photos!
Java showing off – pivoting on a pumpkin 🙂
Photo by Mateja Lugarič
Today’s video is more condensed than usual. This step could be broken down into two or three steps.
1) Once Java could do the whole circle smoothly in both directions it was time to move on to next stage, which is actually a beginning of heeling (finding heel position). I stepped to the target as she was pivoting so that she bumped into my leg – click! Position of my feet is important. I step to the side of the target, not the front. That way she lines up with me when she bumps my leg.
2) Next stage would be to replace the high target with something lower like a book or a frisbee, but Java was offering comming into heel position on her own, so we skipped this 🙂
3) Finally, try it without a target. Sometimes she offers circling which is another trick that she learned, but eventually she will learn the difference between circling and pivoting.
Note: I am not competing in obedience so my criteria for heeling position is probably not as strict as ideal position for competition. I want Java’s shoulders to be in line with seams of my pants, not forging ahead nor lagging behind, back straight and roughly perpendicular to my shoulders.
Once Java was offering steps to the side reliably it was time to wait for more than one step before clicking… and then more and more. The goal was to have her do the full circle on her own, with my hands only to show her the direction in which I want her to turn. This took the longest time of all steps because we got “stuck” at some points around the bowl which Java preferred and would not move past. The most important tip for this step is to click while the dog is still moving. I probably clicked her for stopping too many times, that’s how the “sticky” points came about. But we conquered them eventually 🙂
During this step I also removed my feeding hand between clicks which I have kept there during step #3.
Java had a very nice surprise for me today at puppy school: she showed me that she can skip the final stage of teaching pivoting exercise because she already figured out where the exercise is headed. In fact I think she might be wondering why I didn’t let her do it a week ago. I am so happy with my clever and always ready Black Magic 🙂
Pivoting exercise (or perchwork) is great for rear-end awareness if taught using free shaping and is also used to teach a nice heeling position. Here’s how I taught it:
Step 1: At first I clicked for looking at the bowl or interacting with it in any way, then for standing on it with front feet.
Step 2: Once she would stand on the bowl pretty reliably I started clicking any movement of the hind feet (but I still clicked just for getting on the bowl as well).
Step 3: At first I was clicking any steps to the side, but it soon became apparent that she loves the frontal position (12 o’ clock) a bit too much. So I decided to add some value to the opposite position (6 o’clock) and not click when she is in her favorite position anymore… well, sometimes I clicked despite my good intentions 🙂
Another problem was moving my hand. Whenever I pulled it away she seemed to “reset”, so I was thinking perhaps it would be better if I left my hand there but keep it steady as to not lure her into moving hind feet (the idea of this exercise is that the dog moves her hind feet on her own, not because she was lured into such position).
Enjoy! I will post the rest of the steps over next few days.
Oh and she taught me a new game on today’s walk. It goes like this: she walks about 10m ahead of me, stops and looks back. If I crouch or run away from her she will sprint after me having a blast. Then she will go ahead of me again, stop and pointedly look at me like “Run, Rabbit, run!” I just love this girl!