I’m still working with Sophie to be able to stand on four pods, one pod for each foot. I thought I had the two front feet pretty good and started trying to work with the back feet. It was very difficult.
For one thing, I moved into the hallway so that the wall would help stabilize her position (limit her choices). But I still had four pods. She could get the front feet on the front pods, but didn’t want to touch the back pods with her back feet. It even seemed like she didn’t know where her back feet were. This is not really a surprise.
The next thing I tried was just working with the back pods. Not great.
Then I thought that maybe the pods themselves were too hard because they’re about four inches high. I switched to a SURE-FOOT Equine pad which is only two inches high and worked on just backing onto that pad.
In the meantime, I needed the Equine pads back for horses so I made a platform for Sophie from solid foam floor tiles (2×2 feet). I used this to practice backing onto something. She seemed to get this pretty well. So then I went back to using the pods. This was much better than the first time I went to the pods for the hind feet.
I added the front pods back into the mix but still used the foam platform. She’d get on the front pods and then, because we’d been working on back the hind feet, she’d back her hind feet onto the platform.
Okay, so this seems to be going well. I switched out the platform for the back pods.
Somewhere along the line (also with a few days off), things seemed to stagnate or even go downhill. I’ve noticed other times that Sophie seems to be able to do only so many reps before tiring so I try to keep the sessions short. Maybe I just need to keep plugging away.
Peggy Hogan saw a couple of my videos and suggested that I change a couple of things to help her with the right front paw. Now, here I thought we had the right front fairly well, but, in reality, not so much. Okay, back to the drawing board and practice just the right front without CTing the left front at all. Well, that did seem to help. Thanks, Peggy!
While working on this aspect both in my office and in the hall, I noticed that Sophie again only went a few reps before quitting. I’ve pretty much always thrown treats behind her so that she can approach the pods in a straight line and be set up for another rep. However, I thought that maybe that since she has at least one bad knee (stifle) that spinning around and chasing after a treat got too uncomfortable after about five or six reps.
Well, then, how about feeding for position, eh? How about if I click and then treat her backwards towards her chest so that if she follows the treat in my hand with her nose, she has to back up off the pods to get it. Voila’! Her enthusiasm increased as well as the rate of reinforcement! Gosh, I could’ve had a V8!
Miss Sophie is going to teach me a bunch! 🙂