Today Sei and I did our first shaping session on ‘back up’. I needed to get my shit together and not mix training methods in a single session, and keep an eye on the time so I don’t run a single session too long, but Sei did really well! He really understood what we were shaping, impressively well for a first session! Going forward, I will be teaching the rear foot target properly, and staying close to the mat, only putting very small increments of distance between Sei and the mat at a time. This will encourage a confident and continuous back up, as well as a straight one through muscle memory. What I did here (some horrible mix of targeting and free shaping) resulted in a noodly back up that is a bit hesitant (mostly a result of my bad timing, clicking when he wasn’t moving because I was getting greedy for distance, and also because he isn’t sure how much backing up is what I want).
I will be honest that there was a bit of an ulterior motive to doing this the ‘quick and dirty’ way rather than the right way today. Back up was the last trick we needed for Sei’s intermediate and advanced trick dog title, and I wanted to get an acceptable rep on video. Which we did! And our video was accepted! (I was able to submit both together because so many of the tricks overlapped). Sei is now Avid’s Say Geronimo ATD. I can also now submit this for his AKC title as well.
I am not super satisfied with this title. We did meet the requirements of the title, but I don’t feel that any of the tricks were ‘advanced’ for me to teach or Sei to learn. The only trick that that took more than a session or two to teach were the distance work and the peanut roll. The trick lists can be a bit wonky on difficulty, so I took advantage of that in order to get Sei’s advance title before the AKC grandfathering ends. It saves me money, but I wonder if I should have waited until I had taught tricks that I am more proud of, because I kind of feel like we didn’t meet the spirit of the title.