In this our first exercise for Week 2 we’re going to introduce our pups to standing with their front paws on a platform of some sort. I really like the physio balance pods, there's a link to one of those here but you can use anything, something round and a few inches off the floor is ideal but a set of bathroom scales will work just as well for this exercise!
In the exercise we’re helping our dogs understand the behaviour of standing still in one place but it’s also a great exercise for helping you to practice using your marker word ‘Yes!’ or the clicker if you have one.
When you first attempt this exercise, be ready to click (or say 'Yes!’) and reward your dog straight away, because you may well get the behaviour you want, which is the dog putting their front paws on the obstacle immediately and you need to be ready to capture that.
Jim hasn't seen this set of scales before but I'm anticipating that he will stand on it straightaway because we've done enough exercises that are similar and I'm ready to click as soon as he puts his feet near it and give him a little treat.
It might take you a little longer to get your pup happily stepping onto whatever it is you're using but just toss some treats on the surface and give your pup encouragement and time to experiment. Just be ready to ‘mark’ the desired behaviour of touching the platform with a paw with a click or ‘Yes!’ when it happens! It might take a few sessions depending on how confident your pup is exploring new things.
What you're looking for is your dog’s face to light up and for him to try and jump on the platform as soon as you put it down so keep going with this until you get that sort of response.
Listen and you'll notice that I'm clicking as soon as his feet touch the balance pod and that's what you want to do with your dog. This is a lovely exercise just to take your time and practice - you're getting used to using the clicker or your marker word to mark behaviour so you can keep quiet and just concentrate on watching your dog and clicking when they do what you're after, which in this case is to put a paw on the obstacle.
Mark any attempt to put a foot on the obstacle, even if they touch it accidentally it’s still worth clicking to give them encouragement especially if they're a little suspicious of standing on it.
When your dog is really comfortable move on to keeping him on it for a little longer and reward for eye contact as we did in Exercise 1.1 The Up & Down Game.
This exercise is a great foundation exercise for Station Training and Stand-Stay so our pups get used to moving to a particular place and staying there until we say they can move away. Staying in place in a stand is really helpful for grooming, teeth cleaning, washing down after a walk, at the vets and all sorts of other places.