Let’s talk about Perch for a minute. I hope you’re all working through Steps 1 and 2 with some success. Although you can use a little bit of what I call social pressure (in other words moving into the dog’s space to get movement) be careful that you are not moving too close to the dog. You want the dog to realise that moving his back feet is getting the reward, not moving away from you. You only need to mark tiny movements of the back feet at first so don’t expect too much. This is the video I took of Bo this afternoon. She is almost there.
I hope you’ve had a chance to get your obstacle course started. The first attempt at my course was a bit messy so I cut it down to the two obstacles that my dogs were having the most difficulty with – the jump and the tunnel. I focussed on getting the jump right first and then the tunnel and finally got them together.
ADDING A VERBAL CUE TO DOWN
Using food lures to get behaviour is the quickest way to get behaviour for the novice trainer. The problem with using food is that the food tends to become part of the cue. But the great thing about using food lures is that there is a hand signal built-in which becomes a cue by itself. When your dog is responding to the hand signal adding a verbal cue is simple. However, most people tend to say the word while giving the hand signal. Because dogs do not use language to communicate, as we do, the hand signal dilutes the word to the extent that the dog does not even register it. So the best way to add a verbal cue is to have the word stand out. Say the word “Down” first before giving the hand signal. You can eventually fade the hand signal so that only the verbal cue remains. In this video I’m teaching Fen the verbal cue for a down from the stand.
THE CHIN REST
This is a lovely exercise that I’m teaching my Therapy Dog students at the moment. Apart from making it easier for people in wheelchairs to pet the therapy dog, it is also a very useful skill when checking dogs’ ears, eyes and teeth. It is a targeting exercise where you set up the environment for success and then gradually step by step shape the dog for placing his chin on the towel. Have a look at this demo video to get an idea of what to do. Tomorrow I’ll work through the exercise step by step with you.
That’s all for today folks. Happy lockdown and successful training.