Problem Solving a Stand

I've been working with Splash the foster Boykin spaniel for several weeks now in reinforcing standing.  He was dealt a very bad structure (early closing growth plates) and standing is not something he naturally wants to do.  Splash very much wants to sit. 

So I've been reinforcing just waiting in a stand a lot.  A lot.  I  hate auto sits in how it makes pivoting so difficult!  And we've come a long way in Splash at least learning that waiting in a stand pays. 

I thought a higher reinforcement history for standing would make it easier to actually teach the action of a kickback stand.  But we still struggled with my usual methods.  He has an awkward body and I just wasn't communicating what I wanted well.

Back to the drawing board.  I decided to introduce the idea of a rear foot target to get a kickback stand.  I know many people have taught a stand simply by capturing the beginning of a dog backing up.  It hasn't personally been my method as I really like the picture that front feet completely still offers but I thought I would try to blend the 2. 

It was a fascinating progression over several sessions!  But now Splash will offer a stand with a front foot target, no rear foot target needed.

While Splash will also now offer a kickback stand without any target, I'm finding I still want a front foot target as he has some tiny backing up in there without it.  I'm not sure if that's because of the initial rear foot target work or because of his structure.

Right now we are working on actually getting the verbal cue attached before going back to getting rid of the target.

On a side note, Splash is available for adoption for anyone local to Minnesota!  He has been career changed from the service dog program due to his legs.

And on another side note, registration for my Stand with Me class at FDSA opens tomorrow!!!  We can talk anything about stands from teaching a stand in heel or at a distance to getting a dog comfortable with an exam!


House and a weird retrieve

Wow it's been a busy month!  Lots of exciting changes completed and coming up.  We are still living in my parent's basement but our old house officially was signed away and keys turned over yesterday.  And *knock on wood* we are set to sign for and move into a new house the last weekend of July.  Plenty of room for child and her things.  And the good news is that my new yard will definitely still work for agility.  Large, flat and very few trees!

In training news, Splash has surprised me with throwing me something completely different in our retrieve training than I have seen before.  Of the hundreds of different dogs I've personally put retrieves on over the years I have yet to have a dog offer this interesting behavior:

He cracks me up!  This is actually an improvement. I've been selecting for open mouth along with the lip catch on the bar and you can see he actually is opening his mouth now a little bit. 

Today's session Splash did actually give me 2 very tiny open mouth OVER the db bar so I'm optimistic that we are on the right track. 
I just don't think I could have taught this lip catch thing if I tried!

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