PE For Wally 4: Balancing And Walking With a Ball | Exploits of an Amateur Dog Trainer: Blog Edition

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Saturday, January 7, 2012

PE For Wally 4: Balancing And Walking With a Ball

Alrighty then, back to training. This is what I'm talking about.

While still trying to get all the stuff we had or at least something similar, there is still that medicine ball - it survived. So might as well use it.

So that was the idea for this. I wanted him to put his front paws on the ball and walk. Of course, he looks at me like I'm some psycho alien dog. "How do you come up with this stuff to make me do?" kind of look.

But, all resistance is cast aside when a bread ball or a piece of ham enters the picture. Food is king in his world.

With that, I put the ball in front of him. Since I choose shaping first and foremost I wait to see what he'll do with it. Well, he remembers the times I had him pushing the ball and that's what he started doing. That nose kept hitting the ball, moving it around. When that didn't work, he put his paw on it. Oh, that's progress (pawgress?) so he got a click and treat. He did it again - okay, I'll give you one for that too. No, not the third time.

So, reluctantly, I went to a bit of luring. I held the food high over the ball. That was all the help he was getting, he had to figure out how to get it. If he tried to go around the ball, the food disappeared. After a few tries of that, he saw going around was not a winning strategy.

After a bit, he put one paw on the ball and tried to lean on it. The ball moved, and he backed up, but I gave him the food anyway for the effort (it's a step in the right direction). He tried the going around thing again, but then he put his front paw again. He did keep it on the ball and was leaning on it.

I waited and he finally put the other paw on the ball. That got him more food. Now we're getting somewhere. At this point, the lure went away. He knows he can make his body do it. So now it's time for him to...just do it.

After some thinking (he was like, "what's up with that?") he put his paws on the ball. That made the food appear, BUT not get it. He was like "now what?"

I didn't say anything, just held the food up there. If he got off the ball, the food disappeared. He learned quick not to do that - so he started whining. Like THAT would work. I just turned away with the food in the same spot, so he put an end to that. He then gathered up his nerve and reached up for the food by standing up. His back legs were standing and his front paws were on the ball. YES! I quickly all but threw the food in his mouth.

But now I want duration. I want him to walk after all. So once he figured out how to get the food, I held out a bit to delay the reward and get him used to standing in that pose. Then gave him the treat.

Next step was the walking. This was interesting. I moved the food further away. He looked at it like it was evil for moving. I left it at this distance and he looked at me. I just turned away again and left him to figure it out. He started moving the ball with his paws - that got rewarded. Now we're cooking. He kept it up and took a step with his back legs. Another reward.

Now that he did it twice - I moved the food farther away. He slipped off the ball - and the food went away. Tough. Get back on that ball and figure it out.

He popped back up on the ball (that part he's figured out already) and tried again. He took a step, but I want more steps. I moved the food to trigger that "get back here" mode in him and he took more steps. Shoved the reward in his mouth.

Now he had to do it with no lure at all. Instead, I used my hand as a target and called for "touch" on my hand. He had to walk with the ball to touch my hand. When he did, I got a reward out of my pocket. A couple of those, and then I called it a session. As usual, he was jumping up and down and acting like he conquered the world!

I don't know about the world, but at least you're a step closer to conquering walking with a ball. I will try to capture some photos of this or maybe even a *gasp* video (maybe - I'm an amateur dog trainer, not amateur video producer!)