Why do they look at that, hey? I'm not putting on a tutu so moving on, nothing to see there. I only do dogly things like running and agility to show my muscles, NOT DANCING!!!
Whatever Mawson... Anyway, Martin always joked he wants to do some dancing with Mawson, but obviously that means that I need to do some basic training on movements, so they can go and bust some moves on the dance floor... One thing that is very useful for a lot of things, and not only dancing..., is getting your pup to reverse. It can be quite hard for some pups to do this, and some look downright awkward doing it. But it is useful for a wide range of activities, from Rally-Obedience, to agility and building bum strength (for the dog...)!
Oh, here it comes, she is going to become obsessed with my bum as well!! My mate Bodhi's mum has got a thing with bums! (and that's only one of the few reports of bums in his blog!!)
It is also a good groundwork for freestyle heel dancing. You can get a lot of moves out of this reversing by combining some regular heel work and turns around or away from the handler.
So how do you do it? Well as always there are numerous ways... If your pup offers the behaviour regularly then you can think to shape it "by chance". Always be ready with your reward, either clicker or your best "YES" and btw treats help! Do not say anything else as yet, let the pup try and work out why he/she is getting rewarded, when the cogs are turning and pup realises which behaviour gets the treats then add cues and continue building the reverse. That is the easiest way, but obviously, that is a pretty slim chance for most pups. Usually you have to work at it!! So the luring method can work wonders.
Teaching the backward motion can be divided into small workable portions, first just the starting backward motion, second several backwards steps, and then reinforcing straight reversing.
As I said earlier this can be quite demanding for some dogs, so take it easy and just do little bursts of training, just a couple of minutes everyday.
The backward step initiation is just a question of getting your pup standing, place your hand with food just under his nose and slowly go backwards into him with an horizontal motion. Be careful not to go above his head or he will sit, or too low in which case he will down (unless you want to teach sit and down, but let's stay focussed here peeps!!).
Yes focus, treats, gimme the treats!!
At the beginning, as soon as the pup starts to backup acknowledge and reward. Repeat a few times. When the backup is regular, then try to get an extension of the backward movement. There is something to consider for this step, the fact you want to get the extension in a straight line and not in the shape of a corkscrew. So the best is to use walls or corridors in the house, or anywhere you want that has house and corridors!
If you do the reverse at the heel position (like for Rally-O), sandwich pup with you on the right of pup and the wall on the left of pup. Then, as previously get the backup going and extend from just the start of the backward movement to one, then two steps back with luring. Remember, go slowly that is quite demanding for dogs, train just one step for a bit, then move on to two steps. Rally-O will demand 3 steps back, not more.
When you seem to be getting a straight reverse heeling against a wall, try to move out of the wall, if possible start at 0.5-1metre space and so on until there is no wall around. If it goes all awry, take a few steps back (in the training, not the heeling, it's getting all confusing!!). Don't forget to reward and keep it short.
As always, when the trick is getting pretty smooth with the lure try to phase the lure out slowly, think about which cues you want to use (both hand signal and/or word) an slowly integrate them in the teaching. It can get a bit tricky after a while to find different hand signal cues when you pile up behaviours, so make sure your cues are not confusing for pup.
Now you have the monster reversing next to you in heeling position (i.e. on your left), that is the start for reversing all over the place, so have fun :)
Well never mind that reverse walking, look at my reverse jumping!! ;P