Large flat cardboard boxes
From right at the beginning we noticed Donna had this cautious respect for boxes. We had some big cardboard boxes from electronic goods like the television that we bought. They were sitting in a corner of the living room when we first adopted her.
Donna didn’t go to that corner of the room by herself. And if we were to accidentally throw her toy into the boxes during fetch, she would at most approach hesitantly and then stop and turn around to wait for you to get the toy for her.
So you can imagine, a few months back when I was trying to teach her this to build up her rear end awareness, I had difficulty right from the start. You probably need to watch this trick video – – to get a better sense of what I am describing below. I apologise for the inconvenience. I am unable to embed it, as embedding is disabled.
First I had to encourage her to approach the small cardboard box I found for the trick, and as you can see the most she would do was to tap the box with her nail. I rewarded each tiny step she took until she was comfortable placing her paw fully on the box.
This cardboard box is a little scary, human
She did that for a while, tapping the box and then looking at me expectantly for her treat. I treated the tapping until she looked comfortable doing that, then I tried to get her to put both paws up on the box before I treat.
You can see she is not too comfortable being on the box although she did get on it. I guess I must have progressed too fast for her at the time. Her mouth was clamped shut and she was looking away at the floor.
I think it may explode at any time.
The good thing is, once she realised the box was quite stable (I had put a heavy hard cover book inside so it doesn’t slide around and appear unstable to her), she started to lose some of that tenseness.
I’m only doing this because I like your treats you.
A bit of lip licking showing that she is not totally comfortable still. The box is starting to depress from her weight.
She focused on the treat and her tail appeared happier.
She was so focused on the treat… she moved her paws to the edge of the box.
The things I do for scraps… really, human.
Treating and trying to build positive associations with her standing on the box. I was using fresh boiled meat cut into tiny squares, so I could reward her with quantity when she did particularly well. I hoped she felt that she had won a windfall, I guess. Haha! :D
The cardboard box kept silent all this time, despite it being the object that was stepped on. What a pushover!
Sometimes, the human may say let’s train pivoting, but the dog really is at a different point where she is not ready for it. So we took it slowly with this. I was eventually able to get Donna to have her front paws on the box while moving her back paws at least half a circle around the box from either direction. That was with me standing at her side and luring her still. But at that point, she generally looked more engaged and happy than these set of photos show. That was as far as I progressed before I got distracted by other tricks. :P