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October 2012

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Oct. 6th, 2012

Oct. 6th, 2012 05:51 pm

Two Posts

sarine: (Flower)
Two different posts coming, separated because one will be edited down and added to the heeling post.

Post the first: pivots! There are few things harder imo to communicate to your dog than pivots. Luring tends to lead to an overuse of your hands later and other methods (like using a barrier) becoming reliant on that barrier and it's harder to fade than the method I like best. As an added bonus, this method leads to some awesome body awareness for your dog!

Thankfully, 2 awesome videos have been made demonstrating this so I don't have to prattle on too much about it:

First is Celeste Meade's video which is the original I used to do the work. She doesn't allow outside embedding.

Second is kikopup/Emily Larlham "Key to Rear End Awareness"

Now Emily mentions it's a luring video but you can do it with shaping, particularly if your dog is used to shaping. One thing all my dogs know is I may sometimes want them to put their feet on things. Can it be annoying? Sure but it sure makes things like this a lot easier and when I don't reward it, it self extinguishes pretty quickly. I start by clicking near the brick. The clicker savvy dog will then start attempting to interact with the brick. Remember to start small, if they don't offer you a full paw on the brick click for proximity.

Don't let them get stuck on behaviors like pawing. Once they're touching the brick 80% of trials, start looking for duration. Many dogs will naturally add the second once you start building duration. Once they are reliably touching the brick with some duration I begin treating away from the brick. I haven't attached a word yet! So it will look something like this:

Dog on brick - first time I throw treat 2-3 feet away (only enough so they move off it) - wait. No body movement, no posturing to help them. My next click is going to depend on the dog. Some will run back and stand on the brick again. Some need you to return to clicking for proximity because rules changes are hard. There's no right or wrong here but I would encourage you if your dog seems confused to start at the beginning again. 

For dogs who aren't confused or get it with just a few proximity clicks you can return to this game of getting on and off the brick. If your dog is confused by the rules change go back to treating in position so that they can get a better reinforcement history for the desired behavior.

So my dog is bouncing back and forth now, yay! You can name it here if you want. They're clearly demonstrating they understand. I choose not to because the platform is novel and not something I keep around. It's not a behavior I need on stimulus control. If you are worried your dog will now try to play this game with lots of things, attach a name for stimulus control. 

Next is the actual pivoting. Now that your dog understands feet on the platform you're ready to spin. Here's where luring may come in to place. Some dogs you can naturally shape their back feet moving and turn it into a pivot. Some you may need to lure the first few. The trick is to click on the first back foot movement where the front feet remain on the brick. Two steps are awesome but start small. 

From here you progress into the full spin. I did teach Arya to spin in front of me at the same time I taught her to pivot into me with no problems of the behavior crossing over. Your dog may be different and you may need to work on proximity to handler = pivot into handler. Handler at a distance = spin in front. 

Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions! This entry is public if you want to share it with someone - I would love to hear feedback on the method on what worked for you or didn't if you try it out.

Edit: I forgot a few things.

1. All dogs will have a spinning preference. If you've ever taught it as a stand alone trick you've probably noticed! One way to know which way your dog prefers is to watch them spin when they're about to lay down. My dogs don't do it even regularly so it was hard for me to catch but when they do it's always the same way. Teach spinning both ways. For the way that is hardest for them use smaller steps to reach your goal. Don't delay clicks so long they get frustrated.

2. Emily uses a book, all my dogs are uncomfortable standing on books with glossy covers for a length of time and I'm not crazy about having them on my nicer, leather bound ones. YMMV.
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