"All-Positive Monday 29" - Back it up, Wally! | Exploits of an Amateur Dog Trainer: Blog Edition

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Monday, September 24, 2012

"All-Positive Monday 29" - Back it up, Wally!

Today was a mix of some P.E. for Wally as well as an All-Positive day.

I wanted to revisit his rear-end awareness, something that had gotten lost over the months amidst all the other things that we've been working on.

He already has some idea of how to back up, i.e. walking backwards. To begin, I get him warmed up a bit with just requiring a few steps. I think mark (I use a clicker) and reward him and start again. I try to keep everything as flowing and fast-moving as possible to keep him highly engaged and making it seem more fun.

After the warm-ups and seeing that he still remembers how to do the behavior, I keep each trial lasting longer. I want more steps out of him. As usual, each success is greeted with the reward marker and a treat. At this point, I'm going to start increasing the challenge further in some way.

For today, I wanted to work on speed. He's going to be moving all kinds of ways trying to keep himself going backwards - fine for now. I want to work on just one thing at a time. Using speed should help him get used to moving his back legs more quickly and make him more able to control them.

Marking and rewarding is different as I don't really want to stop the action. As he is moving backwards and keeping pace with me moving forward at him, The rewards are coming, all in stride if at all possible. At the most, a one or two second break so he can chew it if he needs be (which means I need to make them smaller so he can just suck them down without getting choked).

It was funny watching him curve around as his back legs just kept moving him in reverse but no idea how to keep going straight! That's something I'll be having to work on in the future. Another further step would be to have him do so just on cue. I could say "back up!" and he just starts walking backwards.

But those are goals off in the distance and difficult for me to figure how to do in a completely positive way (though shaping figures to be a big part - may not be completely positive, but that's a very large component). Guess I should have called this 'segment' "Mostly-Positive Monday"!