Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Back Up: Completed-ish

This post is part of our 2012 Training Challenge and this month's challenge includes participating in Something Wagging's 2012 Train Your Dog Challenge for January.  We chose to work on Back Up so I would have a command to get Hurley's noggin out of mine when needed.

And with minutes (literally) to spare before the deadline, here are the results of Something Wagging's Train Your Dog Challenge!  If I were one to make my dogs compete against each other, Maggie would win for Cutest Wiggly Butt, Sadie for Best Effort and Hurley for Best in Show.  Also known as giving my other 2 dogs a bone since Hurley clearly smoked his sisters when it came to learning Back up. 

Since we've gotten Hurley, we've been working on the same basic training that we had done with Maggie & Sadie.  Up to this point, I've never tackled teaching all 3 of them something relatively new.  And so I never realized how completely different they learn.  Maggie & Sadie are high energy learners....as in, they will perform a tornado of activity, every trick they think they may know, just to earn one single treat.  They're hopping, twirling & wagging their tails a mile a minute.  It's chaotic and difficult for me to get my timing right with the clicker.  Hurley on the other hand is extremely calm when learning.  If he's not sure what I want, he will lay down and look adorable.  Smart dude knows calm behavior, a down stay and puppy eyes will get him that treat 99 times out of 100. 

More than them learning Back Up, which really only Hurley knows on command, this experience showed me how much I'm slacking when it comes to training Maggie & Sadie.  Just because they are relatively well-behaved dogs who pay attention to Mom's tone of voice well enough that tons of specific commands aren't necessarily needed, doesn't mean that they don't benefit from training sessions.  If for nothing else than it makes them so darn happy to earn a few treats.  And so I embark on the remainder of 2012 determined that this won't be the Year of Hurley the Wonder Dog.  Rather, it will be a year of training & bonding with all 3.  Yes, my expectations of Hurley will always be greater because he's out and about with the public on a daily basis.  Yes, he will likely always smoke the girls when it comes to his ability to learn new stuff.  But I had more fun trying to corral the craziness of Maggie & Sadie than I had expected.  Even when they're all over the place, this Momma can't get frustrated because their enthusiasm is too contagious.

(Yes I cheated and used the same video for Hurley from mid-January)

January is over and then some.  Hurley has Back Up down - we are now including it in strings of behaviors and he can back up 4-5 times in between click & treats now.  Sadie struggled at first but once I did some one on one training and incorporated jackpotting treats when she backed up without hopping, she really started to understand the movement I was asking for.  She doesn't have it "on command" yet but is close.  Maggie totally understands the movement but IS JUST SO DARN EXCITED FOR A TREAT that she can't help but hop backwards most of the time.  Her level of enthusiasm has always been an issue as she just can't contain herself.  While she did demonstrate that she understood the movement I was asking for, she didn't progress any farther along than Sadie by the end of the month. Needless to say, we still have lots of work to do on back up but that's not gonna keep us from moving on.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's post when February's Training Goal is revealed!


  1. What a great post! And what a great way to meet the challenge! It sounds like you learned alot about each of your dogs by watching them learn the same thing.

    I'll be drawing the random winner of the donation tomorrow morning. Good luck!

    And thanks for joining the challenge.

  2. That's so cool! I love Sadie's wiggle-butt too. She clearly loves the training! I could definitely benefit from teaching Zoe that trick...:)

  3. Awesome! Congratulations! Back up is HARD, at least it was for us. Perhaps that's because Shiva's enthusiam is very similar to Maggie's. She just don't do calm and thoughtful. At least, not until she has gotten a few good zoomies in. :-P
    It took us months to get her backing up on her own. It's still not perfect but it's good enough for me. I can't wait to see what you come up for February!

    1. Kristine -

      I'm so glad to hear that it took a while with Shiva. It makes me feel much better about the state of Maggie & Sadie's Back Up! Some things are just harder than others, I think. Once we get to twirl, I'm pretty sure Maggie will excel. :)

  4. I love Sadie's enthusiasm! I bet you really have to think on your feet with her. :) What a great dog.

    I love Hurley but it will be great to hear about your other dogs too. I know dealing with my 3 problem dogs, left the other three out of the loop and now I've been able to include them in training and we are having a great time. I love figuring out what works for them, I think that is sometimes my favorite part. :)