Gettin’ Tricksy With It
For our first trick of this week, let’s continue on with some Spin action! By this point, your dog should be able to comfortably finish a full spin in both directions! Next, you can have them do more than one spin at a time before you reward! Also, you can minimize your hand signals so that you are not moving around as much.
Now that your dog has that type of body awareness down and is used to your luring them a bit, we can try some Leg Weaves! With your dog starting on the left side of your body (in almost a heel position), take a step with your right leg, and lure your dog through. This should have your dog on your right side, almost in a heel again! Take a step with your left leg, and lure the dog through with your left hand.
And there you have it! You will start fading the lure by removing the food from your hands and having your hands at your side like that act as a cue to the dog to go through your legs. Next, minimize any bending down you are doing to help them, and start to reinforce for more than one Leg Weave. You can also start asking for more speed! Eventually, it should look like you are walking at a normal pace with your dog going in and out!
Follow the Fingers
This next trick will change the way your dog does pictures! I started teaching this to my dogs in order to make them more in to looking where I want them to look for photo purposes. We are going to get our dogs to do a visual target to a phone/camera or your fingers! I start with my fingers here, because my dog Bubbles HATES looking at my phone for pictures. I am using my middle and index fingers out, as that should mean nothing to her otherwise (even though she sometimes comes in like it’s a hand target - it’s OK, I just don’t mark it!).
You can see that I’m only requiring a little bit of eye contact here. Once she’s good with just my fingers, I will bring out the phone. I like to make it come in and out of view every repetition so that it draws in her attention and she’s more likely to look at it!
Paw Targets are going to be a great foundation behavior that we will use for a few tricks in this class! As I mentioned in the Materials section, I prefer Paw Pods, but really any object that you can dedicate totally to JUST using for this purpose is fine - make sure that it is somewhat thick, as I do not want your dog to confused what we will use for a Ground Target for what we are using for the Paw Target.
Here I am simply rewarding any interaction with the “thing” a la shaping, until she starts to really focus on the front paw action. I don’t care which paw she puts on it, and she can alternate as much as she wants! Some dogs do have a preference for one paw or the other, and that’s OK!
I am also doing some rapid fire rewards (one treat, another treat, then another treat, etc. for a varying amount that will change per repetition) to reinforce duration.
I also want you to notice how frequently I use a thrown treat (usually I also say, “get it!”) to reset the dogs I work with. In doing that, I am giving the dog a chance to clear their brains for a second, relieve any frustration they might be feeling, and to also build a little bit of excitement in getting back to work, as I generally will reinforce soon after they come back to me!
Spin: Fade the lure! Work to a full spin in both directions with no food in your hand and a less grand gesture.
Leg Weaves: Focus on smooth motion going both directions, fading your lure a bit if you can.
Follow the Fingers/Phone: Work towards having your dog looking at your fingers immediately when they are presented.
Paw Target: Your goal is to have your dog bop the target with their paw consistently when it is there. Remember to use thrown food to reset them!