There is a new trend in dog sports and fitness called canine conditioning. It takes all the information we know about human core conditioning as well as yoga and pilates techniques and adapts them for four legs.
One of the first steps you would learn from a canine conditioning coach is to teach your dog a command for "feet up" or to put their front feet on something that you indicate. There is a lot you can do once you get this behavior.
The thing that I am the most interested in is to teach Tanner how to use his back end to maximum effect. At not quite two years old, he tends to be a big goober at times. I think if he is properly conditioned and body-wise, he will be less likely to hurt himself or someone else. Plus, I am a bit of a training geek and wanted to try teaching this behavior.
I didn't get every training session videoed but hopefully enough that you can see the progress.
Here is one of our first sessions. I apologize for cutting off his head (this is what I get when I put the camera on the floor). At least you can see his feet. My criteria at this step was one foot touching the object. I try to give him his treat when his foot is still on the target. This video is a little long about two minutes but you can get the gist of it rather quickly.
Tanner is consistently giving me one foot on the target. My criteria is still to click for one foot but I am feeding him extra for two feet. We also had an issue where he wanted to lay down on the target. I don't know if this is because I had previously taught him to lay down on a different target or because he is lazy. Either way, it is just behavior and can be molded. I give him his treats up, in other words I hold the treat in such a way that he has to stretch up a little bit to get it. I also do not click for laying down on the object and instead ask him to do something else to move him off the target to reset.
In this next video, Tanner is really getting good at Stomp. I haven't added the cue yet. This session took place during a break a training seminar. I was pretty impressed that he was so eager to perform even with the distractions. From this session I can see that the behavior is where I want it to be and we are ready for the cue.
Here we practice with the cue "Stomp".
Now that he has the behavior on cue I switch it up and ask him to "Stomp" a stool. I click for one foot up the first time or two to get him going.
On to bigger and better things! We were taking part in a small canine conditioning class and Tanner got to try out his new behavior on some equipment. The squishy disc reminds me of a Bosu ball. When Tanner gets both of his front feet on it, he has to work to keep everything steady. Because he has such a good reward history with stable things and this behavior, he has no problem trusting me and attempting to do this.
Now he gets to try the peanut ball. This ball is easier than a plain round one because it can only roll in two directions instead of 360 degrees. Eventually, if we work at it, we will work up to the round ball without my need to stabilize it.
What a good boy!
Many of these videos were made at My Dog's Gym in Salem, Oregon and the rest were made in my messy living room.