Once again, I had plans to take Atticus on another short, three-mile trailer ride – assuming he loaded onto the trailer, stayed there, and indicated that it was okay to close the side door. AND that the truck would start.
Well, three out of four ain’t bad.
Atticus readily loaded on the first try. But he backed off twice and backed to the back of the trailer three or four times before he allowed me to put up the butt bar.
Every time he backed up, whether he backed all the way off or just to the back of the trailer, I waited at the back to see what he’d do. If he didn’t move forward on his own, after a few seconds, I went up front and threw a few treats into the hay bag.
If he got all the way off, which he did twice, I’d wait at the back for a few seconds, then go up front to see what he’d do, then throw treats into the hay bag one at a time to see if that sound would entice him back into the trailer. It usually does. But the first time he backed all the way off, he needed to see if there was any grazing available near the trailer.
Each time he got on (total of three times) and or stayed on, I’d reinforce him for getting back on or staying on. At one point when he stayed on, he only stretched really far forward with his neck to get the treats – but he left his hind feet back at the back! He’s long enough that he can do that – stretch and still reach into the bottom of the hay bag.
A couple of times he searched the trailer floor for tidbits. If he moved his hind feet or a front foot forward, I went to the front to reinforce that. Once I used a broken Stud Muffin for his bumper touches to help reinforce even more strongly the idea of staying up at the hay bag.
Finally, he stayed on and I could hook up the butt bar. Up front to reinforce. Go back to the close the back door. Up front to reinforce.
Then I got ready to close the side door. He was more relaxed today and he did let me close it. I went to the truck to start it and go.
Alas and alack. The truck would not start yet again. It cranks and turns over but doesn’t catch. I don’t know what the problem is and it’s been looked at and fiddled with a couple of times.
We didn’t go for a ride around the block, but we did progress to closing the side door and starting (or trying to start) the truck.
And when I cued him to come off, he had to think about it for a few seconds. Then he backed off, got a jackpot, and then he loaded right up again. He got reinforced for that and then I went back to cue him off again. He backed off on cue and got reinforced for that and I closed up the trailer for the day.
It’s all money in the bank. Building mass around a behavior. It’s all good even if we didn’t get to go anywhere.