In my continuing pursuit of finding a reliable, solid, positive way to clicker train the flyball box, Tatum is being my experimental dog. She is so smart. She is doing great with her mat. I’ve changed the criteria so now she has to lie down on the mat, as I want that to be her default behavior. She’s getting it. The look on her face when she stands on the mat and gets no click is just priceless. šŸ™‚ She is figuring out that criteria changes, gets harder!

She is reliably pawing my hands now. And, of course, she’s using that behavior to try to get anything else, too. So that is going to have to go on cue very soon, so it ALWAYS happens on cue, and ONLY happens on cue. You know dogs and their feet. Just like us monkeys sometimes!

She is also reliably touching a white piece of cardboard with her front feet. She’s getting both on, though slightly, as it’s small. I need to find a phone book. We just usually throws ours away now and use the internet to find phone numbers.

I really want her to have exceptional rear-end awareness. And so I have a special toy (it was all I could find last night) that I put up to her back hips and click/treat. So she knows that the toy (I need a good unique stick with a shape on it to do this, really) touching her hip gets a reaction. Eventually, though it might take a while, I want her to move her hip toward the target so she knows she is moving that back end for her reward.

I’m also clicking and treating her for when I touch her feet, all four of them. This, of course, will not only be useful for flyball, but also for obedience and trimming those darn toenails, which she hates so much. Last night she was starting to hold still for me as I touched a foot. Sometimes I would lift it off the ground, sometimes not. Before I would C/T for only when I touched them, didn’t matter if she moved away. Now I’m only C/T when she doesn’t move away. And she’s catching on. And she’s not dying when her feet are touched. šŸ™‚

What I’ll do after she has that rear-end awareness is get her to touch a foot target with her back foot on the ground. And then I can put it up on the box, and maybe pair it with the front foot touch. Probably I’ll do this on the flat first… front foot touch, rear foot touch, click treat. When she is dong that, up on the flyball box it will go. And I want her high on that box. And pushing off with her rear.

I have confidence this is going to work. It might be slow, but she’s not built like a border collie and she’s really going to need that rear end push off on the box. She’s my smooth collie girl, and I’m really having fun shaping this with her. And she is too. Last night, she didn’t want training to stop!