Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Trick and Treat Tuesday: the basket case

Some people tell their dog to put their toys in a box or a basket. We tell our dog to go in the basket...
That silly trick is inspired by a combination of sources. I was reading Bodhi's blog post on back feet awareness (link) which is important for agility training. A lot of dogs take care of where they put their front feet but forget their butt and end up knocking bars down. The second source was just that I was doing some washing and one of the washing basket was lying outside of the laundry door. Plus I was trying to find ideas to keep the Mawson entertained.

Well she could just have given me a pig's ear...

So I decided to get him to go in and out of the basket in an orderly manner. That's not a highly specialised trick, just a bit of fun, but it has its use. The best way to do it is actually to lure the pup in slowly. The front feet are the easiest. Get pup to place a foot in by either pointing in the basket or placing something in it, or if you have worked on "push" with the paw previously, by telling pup to push, pointing yourself in the basket with your hand. As soon as the paw gets in click/reward and treat. Then slowly work on getting not only one but two paws, always praising and rewarding. Mawson was pretty quick to catch on that one, unfortunately as I wanted to keep him busy for a bit...
I is smart! 
But it can be tricky for some pups who do not like to put their paws in all the silly places their crazy mum tells them (!), so be patient.

front feet, easy mum
The back legs can be a bit trickier, as most dogs will just either jump out or go around. When mister (or lady!) pup gets the front feet in, try and lure slowly the pup forward, with the only place for the back paws to go being the basket. Go slowly on the luring forward. As soon as a back paw gets up and even if not fully in praise and reward. Continue slowly until one and then two paws are in. 

ok, back feet, a bit more tricky
And then if you really want to make your pup look silly, get pup to go and stand in the basket entirely, the smaller the basket, the better...

You could have found a bigger basket to do this trick really mum... I'm not a chihuahua!

and.... tadaaaaaa
Now, to further this, you can work on the pup reversing in the basket, and also doing all this through command only at distance, and without luring of course.
As previously, start by little steps. For distance get first the front paws in as described above, include a cue word of choice for the behaviour when done consistently, then start putting some distance between you and pup using your cue word (don't fogey praise and reward, and small distance increments). Do the same with the back feet and the full pup.
The reversing is really tricky as pups will go sideways. Mawson was quite amazing with that, reversing straight with me until about 15cm distance, where the butt was suddenly swinging round the basket, all this while staring at me and without moving the head slightly out to see behind. Maybe he has a motion sensor integrated in his backside, like some of the new cars...

I have better vision than you mum! Not that it's hard to have better vision than a blind bat, gnehehe...

Oy, Mawson!

Ooops, she read that! 

Anyway... One way you can avoid this, or get around it, is to train this reversing trick in a corridor where the basket fills the majority of the space. Go slowly and praise reward any little step, even if that is just lifting the back paw up. Then do the same way as the "forward" training.

Very soon you will be able to arrange your pups nicely in their respective baskets!

She has gone a bit mental really, poor mum! Maybe I need to find a big box for her...

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