Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Time to catch-up...

Our online class with Silvia Trkman has been on a 2 week break  :(   This gives her a break from constantly watching videos & commenting in the forums, and gives us a chance to catch up! And Stout & I have caught up on a lot of things! We had quite a few big breakthroughs!

So, a list of our trick assignments and where we stand on them:
  • Paw Touch - Stout will offer "Paw" & "Other Paw" really well. He's doing them on cue so I've faded the clicker.
  • Crossing Paws - Unfortunately we didn't make any progress here. But I also never worked on it. Oops...
  • Slamming doors & closing drawers - We worked on slamming cupboard doors quite a bit. First I had to get him to start targeting my hand with his paw while I held it in a vertical position. Then just target my finger (which I think will make the "crossing paw" easier too). He was very confused on all this, but once he actually struck the door & it closed, I jackpotted him & I think he got it. Now he will touch it with a paw (but a lot of times he still just kind of waves in the air - no contact) and will occasionally hit it hard enough to shut it. We may have had a breakthrough last night when he jumped at the door with both paws up high and slammed it. I am waiting to get a reliable close on the door before I ask for closing a drawer.
  • Sit Up - I have named this "prairie dog." We do this a lot and have made some progress! He has finally found a balance point & is adding duration. I can feed him 2 or 3 cookies while he sits up now! He still needs help sometimes to remember that the position requires his butt on the ground, not "meerkat" position. (And Porter is also starting to push himself up into "prairie dog!")
  • "Frog" - I had actually given up on this  :(  But last week I was working outside in the grass with him and thought maybe I'd try it again. I lured him under my leg and moved just low enough so that he didn't have room to move a rear leg up underneath himself. And he got it! And I got it on tape! His first "frog!" So we are continuing to work on it, but he is nowhere near ready to do it without the slight pressure from my leg - I test him a lot  :)
  • 4 feet in bowl - I had also given up on this  :(  But his sudden ability to "prairie dog" and the advancement of his other body awareness tricks prompted me to work on it again. And he is getting it! Last night I moved to a smaller box (well, actually a cake pan, but whatever!). I really think he just didn't have the coordination or muscle strength to do it before. Nor the clicker experience. I hope to have his 4 feet in a shot glass before long!
  • Pivot around object - Ah, the most frustrating trick... But... I think we almost got it! I finally found a better bowl to use (the plastic one was too light - he kept tipping it over, the heavy ceramic one was too slippery - his paws couldn't stay on it, but this one is just right!). Last night he pivoted over 90*. He almost had his back to me! I clicked and would treat further around, prompting him to continue his circle as he reached for the reward. He did offer the spin off the the perch as he would position himself to try again. We are apparently at the hard point now, I just have to get his head turned and finish the rotation! I thought it would never happen...
  • Back Up - He is a fool in reverse! He has straightened himself out. I have named it "Beep Beep Beep" - you know, because he looks like a little dumptruck backing up! He's not quite offering it on a verbal, I have to bend over with a closed fist in front of him and "beep," but he's getting there!
  • Cavaletti's - Do you know how hard it is to do cavaletti work with a dog with 4 inch legs? I scattered my weavepoles on the ground & had him walk his way through those. I also had him do a little anti-cavaletti by walking on the boards of our new picket fence (before John installed it). After I teach my class on Monday nights I've had him do it over a ladder lying on the ground.
  • 2 On/2 Off - He is doing this well. I haven't done any proofing for duration or my position. And sometimes he will come off the object without stopping in the 2on/2 off. But overall I feel he has the basics down. I'm not really concentrating on this though because I assume I won't use it on the agility contacts. But I do see the benefits of using it to teach a moving wait...
  • Stepping back into 2 On/2 Off - This combines our 2 on/2 off with the back-up. I was the dumb one when it came to this trick  :)  I was having him back-up way too far before reaching the object. And he couldn't back up very straight. So I had this long, low barrier stretching across the room so no matter where he backed to he had to step up. But then I watched someone else's video in the class... Yeah, I'm an idiot. They only need to back up 1 step or so before stepping onto the object. I had him too far away  :) We have been working on this, but not comletely. I thought I should get the "pee trick" first (see below).
  • "Pee Trick" - I think I've finally started to figure this one out! Basically, you do the reverse into 2 on/2 off as above, but as they lift that first leg to step back onto the object, you click. So you are clicking the raising of the leg. I wasn't real hopeful about it, but last night he was starting to offer it! I didn't have a high enough object to really see it in the beginning.
So we're really coming along! I've been videotaping almost everything, hopefully I'll have time to do some editing & uploading tonight. I'd like to get it done before we leave for the Cardigan Specialty on Friday. Porter is entered in the herding trial (both ducks & sheep!), agility, and obedience (Novice A again). I'm obviously a glutton for punishment. The only thing I'm not stressing about is the agility!  :)


  1. Oh good. I am glad you are entered in the herding trials. Cheryl and I will see you there!

  2. I am looking forward to meeting you. Will you have the puppy with you? I really want to see my grandpuppy!

  3. I am quite impressed with everything Stout has learned, and I'm uber jealous that I didn't do this with Mesa when she was a pup!