"All-Positive Monday" VIII: Work That Rear, Wally! | Exploits of an Amateur Dog Trainer: Blog Edition

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Monday, May 2, 2011

"All-Positive Monday" VIII: Work That Rear, Wally!

We had a lot of fun doing the as-planned rear-end awareness and some work on catching/eye-paw coordination games.

Back it up, Wally!

Most of the time was used on the rear-end awareness as it's slower paced and more challenging for him at the same time. At first, we worked on backing up and I had him backing up back and forth along the hallway. We went just a couple steps at a time at first, trying to emphasize keeping the rear straight. I noticed that if I held something over his head (like the treat), it was easier for him to get the idea or keeping his form right.

Once I was doing that, we were able to start moving a bit faster and, more importantly, getting more steps in at a time. At this point, I tried getting him to turn backwards by angling how I "walk into him" to get him to back up (he's right in front of me). This is a work in progress for sure, but it was interesting to try it.

Hit The Book, Or At Least Step On It

Then we moved to the paws-on-the-book exercise and it was every bit the challenge as expected. Going to the right is "easier" for him as he moves much easier shifting around the right. When trying to do the same thing for the left, he is much stiffer and it's almost like he has to think about how to actually move himself to make the movement, or he thinks he can't (or perhaps actually does not know how to) make the movement and tries something else - in this case, either coming off the book or putting his back paws on the book and sitting down with all four paws crammed on the book.

I suppose this means he's "right-pawed" or somehow is just more comfortable turning/moving towards the right than the left. Something I might have to explore...

Get Up On Those Back Paws, Please!

After that, I had him stand on his back paws and walk beside me. Again, I had a treat to help him get the idea on where to focus and to help him with his form for best balance. This was harder, but he was doing it. We started with just a few steps at a slow pace, and it seems like we'll be needing to work with this more, but he was getting the hang of it.

I then moved the treat around and he had to keep following it while standing on his back paws still. I moved the treat somewhat quickly and in random directions with sudden direction changes. This, he was better at for some reason (I would have thought it would be harder), and he loved this. At this point, he was getting more excited as well.

Lastly on the stand-on-back-paws list, I had him try to just balance and stay perfectly still. This exercise got him whining with excitement as we wanted to move, but instead the tail went crazy wagging as he tried to stay still. He had to remain motionless, like holding the pose, for a few seconds before he got the reward.

Brief Work On Catching

After a little break to let him rest a bit, we started on the catching. For this, I used some "heavier" pasta shapes (corkscrews) so they could fly on a more steady path. At first, he had a hard time tracking it, but then he started trying to grab it. His "bangs" got in the way a couple times, obscuring his vision. He did start catching more of them from a short distance and I knelt down to his level. We didn't get to work on too much with this, but we'll continue to work on it later on. He certainly wasn't bored, though!

Slap Me Some Paw, Dog!

Later on in the evening, we got a chance to work on the eye-paw coordination. As expected, he LOVED this! I would egg him on with "Get it! Get it!" and "nipping" him with my fingers to really get him going. He jumped down in to his play bow and was intently following my hand around, sometimes trying to pounce and other times slapping the floor with how hard he was doing it.

When he got one of those slaps on my fist, he got the prize. This also helped him to understand what would work. At first he was trying to stick his nose in to pry my fist open, or sometimes grabbing my wrist in his mouth to try to hold it (which was surprising!), but he starting figuring out that only stopping my fist with his paws would get me to give up the goods.

In all, yet another great "All-Positive Monday"!