Skateboarding

video


I was in the garage tidying up when Elsa came to the door.  She is not allowed to come in unless invited.  This is a safety precaution; in case someone happens to leave the outside garage door open.  It was safe so I told her "okay."  She came in and nosed around a bit before finding a skateboard.  I turned to see what she was doing and she was just standing looking at it.  Then I remembered teaching her about the skateboard when she was little.  She remembered and was hoping to get a click and treat for touching it.  So later in the afternoon I got it out and we picked up where we left off over two years ago.

Of course she already knew that we were going to work with the skateboard so she immediately gave it a push.  With a few clicks for a simple touch we moved onto the tougher stuff quickly.  I was only clicking when she left her foot on.  If she left it on while it was moving, she got a bonus load of treats. Often a new behavior has to be broken down into steps.  I couldn't expect her to just get on and go boarding.  We have to work up to that.  Once she was reliably giving me one foot on the board we moved to two feet.  This meant that she no longer got clicks for one foot and had to offer more.  What I want is for her to have her two front feet on it and walk around.

She is getting it for sure.  The training process with the skateboard is quite fascinating.  She is not only learning a new behavior but interacting a great deal with the board.  It rolls around and she has to go get it to continue; plus she is working with a moving object. She, like Luke is not a fan of things that move by themselves.  It is a good skateboard, so it moves easily and is constantly rolling away.  She goes to wherever it rolls; and steps out of the way when it is rolling her way.  This would be a wonderful exercise for any dog who may be afraid of a board.  Of course you would start with the board on the grass so it wouldn't move and very slowly work up to a smooth surface.

The biggest challenge was for me when I decided to video tape a bit of the process.  With a handful of treats and a clicker in the other hand; videoing seemed impossible.  Okay, Elsa understands "yes" as a substitute marker so I'd use that.  Sounds easy right?  Nope.  Every time she deserved a "yes" I shut the video off.  With marking the behavior on my mind I kept hitting the phone as my click and then saying "yes" after.  Timing is everything when using markers and having the phone in my clicker hand had me struggling for perfect time.  So the delivery of my "yes" is not perfect but we managed.   At least I got enough video for you to see what we were sort of doing.

Teaching is never a waste; even an activity like this is useful.  Watching Elsa think is the magic part. 

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