A training video??? How new and scary please b…

A training video??? How new and scary please be kind?? In other words, I don’t know anything about dog training and yet my dog is both clever and forgiving! If anyone is willing to give me some guidance that would be lovely. I’m tagging a few blogs I know are knowledgable about training: @twobigears @molosseraptor @shotinthekidney@dogs-on-logs 

My rambling commentary is under the cut! 

The elevated plank and the stepping stool are all new. I shouldn’t have introduced so many things at once, but I’m learning, and for the most part she seemed to get what I want? I’m not sure how much body awareness she has, but she used to be hesitant on strange surfaces and also is very careful not to step on people. I am really proud of her for this. I really just wanted to see what she would offer me. 

I only train tricks like that about once a month (I am home from college for the weekend every two weekends) and 99% of training is recall, treating doors as boundaries, automatic leave it, and loose leash walking. We’re worked on both touch and putting her paw on things before so that isn’t new. Earlier today she offered her paw on the stepping stool so I thought I’d film it. She knows the commands touch, up, on, and off all in relation to other things. She knows touch means touch her nose to my hand, and I use up and on interchangeably while pointing at something? Oops. I’m not too sure how to differentiate, maybe the pointing is really what matters more. I shouldn’t have/didn’t need to say them since I know dogs can’t generalize AND I use them interchangeably. I’m a rookie, that’s why I’m asking those who know more than me!!

To me, she seems engaged and happy to be training. Except for the frustrated barking, but I have some thoughts on that. She really tries everything I ask of her and is so eager to please. I hope the fact she loves food so much doesn’t push her into an uncomfortable zone. She’s free to walk away anytime, I didn’t notice any other signs of stress. I am unsure exactly how motivated she would be without a reward.

She loves food, she’s very fixated on it. Usually I have treats out of sight in my belt pouch but here I was on the floor. I know toys can be used as a reward, and she does like to tug, but it doesn’t seem to be on the same level as food at all. She is only interested in toys if I’m playing with her (unless it’s a stuffed kong). She makes growly noises when she plays with toys which scared me when I was 15 so I’ve very rarely played tug games with her, even though now I think it’s just a playful noise. When she was a puppy she used to grab things all the time, so we worked really hard on “drop it” and she’s much better – maybe she just doesn’t get that I want her to actually hold something instead. I could just stop trying to teach this, I really don’t want her to offer behavior like picking up things on walks when her automatic leave it has been so good the past few years.

I think there’s a difference when I guide her to the side of the plank rather than just tapping the middle. My fault for asking her to sit, she doesn’t like sitting in the living room because her paws always slip on the hardwood. I’m (pretty) sure she knows the difference between sitting and lying down. 

I’m not really clicking for a certain behavior – I wasn’t really looking for one, I wanted to see what she would offer. With the elevated platform I wanted four paws but I did sometimes click when she did two. Watching the video, that was probably confusing. I am unsure if my timing with the clicking is alright. 

The second time I used the elevated platform, I raised it like 4 inches further off the floor. She seems to get frustrated/not really understand what I wanted. The “frustration barking” which I interpret to be “I don’t know what you’re asking and I want a treat now!”. I know my cues are unclear, and I am asking a lot all at once, I just don’t have much experience since she usually seems to understand what I want. Maybe I went too fast and should’ve been more gradual, I wasn’t sure if the height difference would really matter but my girlfriend pointed out that she does seem more hesitant. That backing up and barking behavior is (I believe) something she does when she’s frustrated or wants something. I didn’t want to end a training session on that note, so if she hadn’t gotten on the platform after like 10 more seconds I would’ve asked her to do something easy like some spins and touch before wrapping up. Should I have stopped immediately when she seemed unsure of what I wanted?

Are there particular areas I can improve on? What advice can you give me, someone new to both dog training and tricks? Are there exercises or trainers I should look into?