Re-Training Front and Finish | Exploits of an Amateur Dog Trainer: Blog Edition

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Re-Training Front and Finish

We took a break from the games to work on sitting in front and finish positions. Wally's drifted out of position for these, and it's hard to understand where he got the idea from, but whatever the case, he needs to be refreshed in these positions. He used to be able to come from a looong distance away (don't know how long it is) and come to a perfect screeching halt-sit-front right in front of me. Then short distances became even a problem and I didn't even want to try the longer distances.

Fumbling Fronts

It got so bad at one point to where he didn't even want to do fronts anymore because he could understand why he was doing it wrong and I probably wasn't giving him good enough clues to help him along either, thinking he knew it and just needed to figure it out. Then, of course, calming signals kicked in as well, making him want to keep space between us, causing him to sit further out of position.

What I ended up turning into was good old targeting. Targeting my hand is almost a reflex at this point and using that to bring him to front position accurately also overcame his tentativeness in performing it as well.

With the clearer picture for him, he was getting the idea again and coming forward much more enthusiastically. He put his nose on my hand and sat down right in position. Getting praised, clicks, and rewards just made him more excited, which made him do the next one twice as good. The target could be faded as well, though at this point he still gets the target sometimes. It's looking like we are getting back to where it was.

Finding Finish

Finish wasn't as mixed up, but there was still problems with his execution. One of the most common errors he'd make was sitting more perpendicular to me instead of parallel to me. This is one of those times where I wish I knew what he was thinking to make him think that was the right thing to do! It was a very creative error, it's too bad there was anything I could do with it...

Another particularly interesting error was when he would sit in what would be front position, except in the opposite facing and location. For example, if I was walking forward where finish would be on my left, he would sit on my right in otherwise perfect position and be facing in the opposite direction! Write up another for the Mysteries Only Dogs Know file. Oh if only to swap places with him for a day...

Anyway, fixing this was another exercise in targeting. This time, my hand to my side brings him around (and this also means he actually does know what it is...) to sit in the proper place. Most of the more minor errors are him sitting too far back, which this corrects. Now as for the perpendicular thing, I don't know. I don't think I'll ever figure that one out...

Like with "front", he's getting back in the groove with finish. I think keeping up with the targeting and keeping up with the review will help him. I need to incorporate them more into "daily life" as well. If anyone has any ideas on day-to-day tasks (even if we have to make them up/start new routines) that can either be used with front/finish, please feel free to share!