Bridge work

Its been alongtime since I taught my Jack Russell a new behavior; but it was a spur of the moment idea that I think will be pretty cute. I use bridge work in my training. A bridge is basically a word or sound that lets a dog know that they have done what you want them to do and that a treat will be following. My little Jessie was clicker trained nearly 12 years ago so she understands the concept well. Once you have trained your dog this way they really learn quickly; and it is very interesting to watch.

My daughter was messing around in the backyard with a skateboard; the thought crossed my mind and soon I was trying to get Jessie to get up onto the board. She was not cool with the whole moving skateboard idea so we are still at the stand still level. But she is getting on it. I started by sitting on the gound; holding the skateboard. With treats in hand Jessie knows that I want her to offer me something; she's not sure what but she will offer me something.

The first thing she always offers is a nose touch, I say nothing so she moves onto something else. She stares at me for a while; looking around for something to include in the behavior. Finally she touches the skateboard with her paw "Yes" and she is rewarded. Looking at me she tries it again "yes" and she gets her treat. Jessie is a very fast learner so I can move quickly through the steps.

I expect her to put a foot onto the board now, she does "yes" and treat. I typically only ask her to do one level 3 times before expecting more from her. So the next step is to get both front paws on the board. Every so often she wains from our goal and tries something else; you must give no reaction to these sideline attempts. With no feedback she returns to her first objective; to get treats.

Once she is putting two front feet on the board reliably; I want her to put four feet on the board. This takes much longer as dogs do not typical think about their back feet, they just always follow along, right? After waiting for several minutes of two feet up, distractions of trying something else and starring at me she finally gets up onto the board with four feet "yes" and treat.

So I have her getting on the board on cue now while I hold the board. Now she must learn to deal with movement and then she will be giving Tony Hawk a run for his money.

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