Monday, August 28, 2006

thoughts and ramblings

We haven't been progressing as quickly as I'd like with the rear paw targeting. The goal is to get the dog to step on a target object (in this case a textured block about 8"x10" and 1" high or 20x25cm and 2.54cm high) with her right rear paw. For the non-dog trainers here, most dogs are only cursorily aware they have rear legs, let alone able to really use them with any degree of awareness or coordination. Mostly the front end just moves and the rump follows by default. There are skills that are used in sports which do require a degree of rear end awareness... for example, backing, climbing a ladder, avoiding clipping a pole on a jump or accurately make contacts in agility etc. There are a variety of ways to teach it - ladder-work, teaching the dog to turn on it's forehand and various jumping exercises wherein the dog must take off as soon as it lands. I'd heard about teaching the dog to target with it's rear paws in a discussion somewhere and thought, "huh, yeah, that sounds like a nice challenge!"

I had started by simply free-shaping for the behaviour as I had the various front paw targeting stuff or the 101 TTDWAB exercises. It became soon was apparent (10 clicks) that I really wasn't helping her because she knew she was supposed to do something which involved the target but couldn't work out what. (Well DUH... it's hard to be aware of that being the thing I'm looking for her to utilize! Admittedly not one of my brighter moments! Plan first THEN train!)

So breaking it down more, I started working on shifting weight on the rear feet etc. with the idea being to get her to deliberately move the rear foot in any movement. Simplifying it as well, working her in a smaller area. Better but still not as nice as I'd like. We've done ladder work and such so I thought she was to the point this would be a fairly easy connection for her to make but maybe the fluency for that isn't there to the degree I thought? Hmmm....

So yeah, I think tomorrow I'm going to go back and fiddle with that a bit more and maybe use some vet-wrap or something on her hocks to make them a more noticeable sensation. T-Touch was also a thought and on a quasi-related note I want to look at spinal alignment as I think she may be pulling and seeming tense in the shoulders.

Other than that, we did very little training today, maybe 20 minutes all up? I spent most of the day just thinking about where I am with our training and where I want to go, chewing over our relationship. Something my instructor said to me has been gnawing at me. This was a session when Si’s blood sugar was wonky and she was being pretty hyper about offering behaviours, which for her is also a sign I’m lumping and frustrating her. At any rate, the comment was made that I needed to keep my hands stiller because Si was so in tune to my body language she was trying to interpret every little movement. I was trawling my bookmarks tonight, as I have a folder full of interesting stuff I've found and didn't have time to throughly read at the time, and came across something that just sort of stood out to me:

This is something I really want to think on and figure out if my behavior is causing her to react that way. Yeah she is a spaz anytime she’s not had breakfast but I can see where she would react exactly as described in the ‘leading’ example.

We still had a great day though. Lots of lovely "together" time for all of us. I really love it when we have mornings like this one, where as soon as I woke up I was surrounded and cuddled up with Nic, Laurent, Cade and Si all piled in the bed together cozy and enjoying each other’s company in the morning sunshine for half an hour or so before we finally rolled out of bed for an equally leisurely breakfast and a nice day just spent together.

*yawns* And now it's time for bed!

No comments: