Stuck Training Hand Stand/back Up - Help!

Discussion in 'Dog Tricks' started by luckylego, Oct 17, 2013.

  1. luckylego Experienced Member

    Hey guys..

    So I've been hard at work expanding the girl's trick list, and lately we've been working on the hand stand trick, but I'm having some troubles..

    I've been using an old camping cooler to start, and both girls know to jump up onto it once I pull it out, but they just can't seem to grasp the backing up onto it part - which is partly because they don't know how to back up in the first place! I've lookied through old threads and can't seem to find a way that will work for them.. If I step towards them, they'll sit.. If I try to lure them back with a treat they will sit pretty, or lie down, or bow, depending on where my hand is.. If I try Evie's method against the wall, I do get some minor results, but typically they are SO focused on the food that they just try to turn around (no matter how tight to the wall they are) or climb the wall to get at the treat. Any tips to get them started with that? Maybe I need a smaller first step to back onto?

    Also.. I'm just wondering, is it cheating that I use hand cues to get them up onto the box? Streets learned how to get up by free shaping, but occasionally she blanks out and I point to the box to remind her, and then once she is up there I point back at the floor and she puts her two front paws down. No verbal cue is used, and maybe I'm just being overly picky, but does that defeat the purpose if it's broken up into hand cues like that?

  2. southerngirl Honored Member

    I started off having Missy back onto one book than added another and another.
    Once I had a good stack of books I switched to my mushroom chair.
    After the mushroom chair I went to the wall.
    After the wall I didn't use any more props.
    Yeah then I got stuck, I never got Missy to go any higher than a little less that half way.
    Oh and for backing up onto the prop I stood at Missy's side put one hand under her belly and lured her back with the other hand. I halfway picked up her back end onto the books (the big stack of books) I faded out how much I helped her get up until I was just at her side than I had to slowly move in front of her.
    If how I just explained it made no sense I will make a video for you.
    luckylego likes this.
  3. luckylego Experienced Member

    Thanks southerngirl! Maybe my initial prop is a bit too big for them to be comfortable backing onto.. I'll try going down to something small like a book first and see if that makes a difference. I thiink I get the idea, I'll give it a try this weekend and see if I can make any progress using that method.. Fingers crossed!! Streets has gotten alot better working with the clicker, so that has definitely helped speed up our training, but she just can't seem to wrap her brain around the concept of backing up yet!

    Out of curiousity.. when you took the prop away, did Missy hesitate much to back up the wall?
  4. southerngirl Honored Member

    Yes she did. I also put my hand under her belly and when she backed into the wall I lifted her back end up so her back legs were on the wall. I did it until I felt her begin lifting her back end up and slowly faded my hand awy. This is a very hard trick and could take months.
  5. luckylego Experienced Member

    Ok, that's actually nice to hear.. I haven't done alot of the more difficult tricks with the girls yet, and with how long its been taking I've been worried that I might be doing something wrong.

    I backed up a bit with my criteria - since the cooler was likely pushing things too high too fast, and now we're working on backing up and putting your hind paws on the doormat. They both readily back onto the mat nearly every time, but the second I try to make it any higher they have no clue what to do. I tried placing the doormat on top of a large book, so that the surface they are backing on to still looks and feels the same, but it hasn't seemed to help much.. they refuse to step up onto the mat, and usually just end up sitting down instead. I don't really know how to encourage them to keep moving backwards, so in the meantime I've just been working at really proofing their "forward" and "back up" cues, in the hopes that if we get it consistently enough it will keep them from freezing up once they have to start backing ON to something.

    Any suggestions?
  6. southerngirl Honored Member

    Hmm...
    Try putting the book in front of them lead them over the book and click right when there back legs walk on it.
    And for Missy I had a hard time getting her to back up on something to so I would tell her to back up and when it was time for her to lift her back legs onto the book put your arm on her belly and left her hind end onto the book. Do this until you notice they are starting to lift there back end by themselves. This is what I did for Missy and it worked.
  7. jasperaliceuk Experienced Member

    I took inspiration from a couple of very well known You Tubers and did it this way:)

    Sue
    brodys_mom likes this.
  8. brody_smom Experienced Member

    I love this! I just completed the elephant walk trick with Brody. I had tried to lure him into it last spring, but really got nowhere. This time I used shaping and it worked so much better. I think it's time to challenge his back end awareness with this one! I am so excited!
    Ripleygirl and southerngirl like this.
  9. brody_smom Experienced Member

    Okay, now I'm stuck! Brody has a hard time with "back up". He tends to curve around to the right with his back end, so if he is in front facing me and I move toward him, he swings his butt to the right as he backs up. If he stands beside me facing the same direction and we back up together, he still swings his butt, sometimes to the left, but usually to the right, and then he gets stepped on! Now he is very reluctant to back up from that position, and if I insist, he will jump up and nip my shirt. I tried just putting a book in the middle of the floor, but after working so hard to learn the elephant walk trick, he just started doing that. I thought, "Okay, I'll just let him do that and click if he accidentally puts one of his back feet on the book, and we'll go from there." No such luck! I tried moving the book to a corner, but he just paws at it. I tried backing him up to it, but he swings his butt so that his back feet never make contact. I am trying so hard not to lure him, but I am getting frustrated. He has gotten so much cheese and hot dogs today, I'm afraid of what his poop will be like tomorrow!
  10. Ripleygirl Experienced Member

    Could you just go back to the back up facing you at the moment and work within a certain space (i.e. between the bed and the wall if that is an alley like space) to try and straighten up his back up or would Brody be unhappy with the closed in nature of this?
  11. running_dog Honored Member


    Two or three suggestions if you haven't already got this sorted (I'm working through the same problems with Zac).

    Do you use a very different cue for back up compared to reverse weave? I found Zac did a lot better when I started to use "Reverse" and "Back" as he didn't confuse them or start moving before I finished the cue.

    Luring does help as you can have quite a lot of directional control with a lure. Although you are not intentionally luring his direction may well be being controlled by where you are holding your hands or where you reward him afterwards. I'm working on a simple game with Zac where I move (turn, move back, move forwards) and he has to keep in front of me, it is helping his "front" position a lot and should help his "back" given time.

    If you are trying to shape maybe break it down even further. It might be too much to expect him to back onto a book all in one lesson. Maybe just get him confidently lifting his paws at first.

    Try getting him to back onto a larger target like a cushion or a dog bed. Lure backwards a millistep onto the bed or you could crowd him back, click as soon as a foot hits the bed (advance this until he is right on the bed and understands what he is doing) then start moving the bed a little further back... and back... and back. He should soon figure out that if he curves off to one side he misses out on a reward.
    Ripleygirl likes this.
  12. brody_smom Experienced Member

    It was a couple of weeks between my "SOS" and any responses, and we did make some great headway during that time. I watched a Susan Garrett video of her teaching Swagger to back up from one kind of flooring to another, so it was still a matter of rear end awareness as he was rewarded when both back feet were on the different flooring. I decided to do a combo of shaping and luring as I got him to move slightly backward to eat a treat I tossed between his front legs as he was standing facing me. I also had a small rug on the kitchen floor, so he would feel the difference in the texture. After he figured out that I was clicking for the backward steps as he was moving to get his treat, he started offering the movement, until he was eventually backing onto the mat. After a few sessions of just backing up further and further to the mat, I started placing books under it, with a couple of cube-shaped footstools forming a corner to keep him straight. After a few days of this, he was getting very good at backing up and just feeling with his back feet for the pile of books. One time, he accidentally backed into one of the footstools, and lifted his back feet onto it. Jackpot! I have decided to stop here for a bit, as a trainer on another video suggested that this trick should be taught over weeks and weeks as the dog needs to build strength in his shoulders to be able to carry all of his weight on his front legs.
    Ripleygirl and running_dog like this.
  13. ellieh Active Member

    A good way of teaching a dog to back up without walking into them or potentially making them feel unsure/worried about backing up is to follow these steps:

    Set up two barriers side by side, such as two chairs or two high cardboard boxes, place them against a wall- There needs to be enough distance between the two barriers for your dogs body to walk between them.

    Make sure your dog can walk through the barriers towards the wall but cannot turn around.

    Throw a couple of treats towards the wall (between the barriers), your dog will run to get the treats

    Once he has eaten them, he won't be able to turn around so he will back out

    When he backs out, click and reward - use your cue word just before he backs out

    Practice, Practice, Practice!
    Ripleygirl likes this.
  14. luckylego Experienced Member

    Ooh I like that idea! We just moved across the country so our practice sessions havent been as frequent as I would like, but we're still stuck on back up. Lego will do it fine and back up a step or two without a book nearly every time, once a book is added she's about 50/50. She'll realize that I want her back foot on it, and try to do that, but she doesn't aim well and gets frustrated and starts sneezing like crazy if it takes her more than two tries. Once we put the book against a wall everything falls apart. She seems uncomfortable with the wall, so when she backs up she angles her bum so it's almost parallel to the wall, and then misses the book and starts sneezing.
    Streets is another story.. Using the walking into her method just seems to make her take a step or two back and then slink into a sit. Even using the clicker and marking before she sits, it still happens more than %50 of the time. And adding a book (which I know I shouldn't have done until she had it down but I was curious), just freaked her out. She just seemed nervous about the "thing" behind her, and would go out of her way to step around or over it when she backed up.

    I'm going to give that last method a try and see if it makes a difference.. This trick has been on my list for far too long!!
    Ripleygirl likes this.

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