Friday, March 13, 2015


Bandit is a year old now, and I have yet to teach him a good understanding of paw work.

I have tried to introduce paw work to him several different ways.  First, the old, use a treat lure over the head, click when a paw raises a little, and treat method.  He never really seemed to associate the click with the paw raising.

I also tried the method by which I taught Dean.  It was easy peasy.  I picked up Dean's paw, clicked and gave him a treat.  Picked it up again, clicked and gave him a treat.  After doing that twice, he gave me his paw readily when I put my hand out.  Did not work for Bandit.  Like Speedy, although not quite as emphatically, he did not like me taking his paw like that.  Dean didn't care.  I won't continue a process that is aversive to an individual dog, so we dropped that quickly.

Finally, at a targeting workshop, I learned a nifty method where you have the do lying down and use body motion.  Bandit got the foundation game quickly, but I didn't have any guidance after the workshop to take it to the next step, and we just kind of let it go after that.

Yesterday I got fed up.  I decided to just toss it all in the trash can and train him the way I trained Speedy.

Speedy did NOT like to have his paws touched.  Bandit isn't super crazy about it, but Speedy truly hated it.  So, I taught him by putting a board on the ground and I shaped him to touch that board with a paw.  Speedy loved shaping and working with objects, so that happened quickly.  Once Speedy was touching the board on the floor readily, I lifted it up slightly so Speedy had to reach up a bit to touch it.  He understood right away.  Then I took a dowel and held it the way I had been holding the board.  Bingo!  He touched the dowel.  I put that on a cue, "tap".  At that point I did not care which paw he used.  "Tap" just meant "touch it with one paw".  Finally I stretched out my hand, offered it to him, and said "tap".  He ever-so-gently reached up with his paw and touched my hand.  It was very sweet.  Speedy was never one to "shake hands", but he loved raising a paw to touch a hand, a leg, a knee, a prop, a cane . . . whatever.

Speedy doing a paw touch to his yellow cane from our "Here Comes the Sun" routine

Speedy lightly touching his paw to my arm as he performed his "up up".  From "Reunion"

Just a single paw lift in this photo on which I used a special effect

So, my Bandito!  It seemed to me that if Speedy had learned successfully through that method, Bandit would progress quickly, and he did!!  I am finding, very much to my surprise, that their basic learning styles are very similar.

We started with a board on the floor.  At first he offered two paws each time, so I turned the board to encourage him to touch with just one.  Then I raised it, and then raised it up some more.

He understood each step perfectly and he got it immediately!

Next time we work on this (today, if possible!), I plan to change out the board for a dowel, and to see if we can start adding the "tap" cue.  As with Speedy, I will transition to a specific cue for each paw once he really has the idea.

This will eventually turn into paw touches to my hand, paw touches to my leg or knee, paw touches to props, paw touch to my arm from hind legs, paw raises - close and at a distance, chorus line kicks (sitting and standing), and, I am hoping, crossed paws!!

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