Cassie, I have something of a trainer's challenge for you! My mom, the last time I was home, showed me a youtube video of "the world's smartest dog". In it, part of the dog's routine was to "take a step" (ONE step) toward the toy. The owner would tell him to take a step, take another step, back off, take another step, touch the toy, "wait till I count to three" before taking the toy, etc. I told mom that Ky could probably do the same routine if we worked on it (she didn't believe me), and I know Spark DEFINITELY could, but I'm pretty sure I've never seen you ask him to "take one step." I've started working with Ky on it with a clicker, and she does it, but I'm not sure that the point is getting across... She just takes a step forward, I click, and she gets a treat. It must be the easiest thing ever for her :). But I think if I were further away, she would take multiple steps, and obviously that's not good! Do you have an idea for how to train this, better than mine anyway? Wanna try with both of our pitties? I think we could kick this "smartest dog" routine's butt if we wanted to... just another thing to work on since I'm pretty sure Spark knows that entire Project Train Your Dog workbook already!
Here's the link for the video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUcYSR-Xl_E I'm totally sure Spark could do most of this... would be nice to see a pittie version of it :). Let me know what you think?
I think this is a GREAT idea.. I love it. I can also picture teaching it... What I would suggest you do if you want to train Ky more complex things like this is to do some free-shaping! It's super fun, just takes some patience... Are you familiar with it? If not.. here's the breakdown!
I start teaching my dogs free-shaping like this.. I get an object (Patches just started learning with a soup can), and place it on the floor near the dog. The object of this game is to get the dog to target the soup can (nose or paw, your choice, just have a specific goal in mind). When you see Ky even acknowledge the can, click and deliver a treat (but have her come to you to get it). It is tempting to lure them over to it, or shake the can, or put treats on it, but the point of this exercise is to teach you both free-shaping. If the process of the dog nosing the can is really taking forever, as in 10 minutes or more, I might move the can with my toe or something to get the dog to acknowledge it. It's like saying, "Hint, hint! What I want you to do has something to do with THIS!" Once you have her nosing the can and coming back for the treat, you move further away from it, change it's location, etc. etc. and start clicking for the progressive behaviors (as in, once she's good consistently "acknowledging" it when you're right next to the can, start withholding the click until she noses it, etc. etc. and then start adding distance.) Add your cue word, "hit it" or whatever you want when she is consistently offering that behavior.
When you're working on free-shaping a behavior, try not 'to ask for anything else during that session (sit, down, stay, wait, etc.) if you can help it - an exception might be asking Patches to wait while I reposition the target can.
The point of doing this exercise is that you are beginning to teach both of you the game! It's like "hot, cold." Click for approximations that are on the right track, ignore everything else. Spark is WICKED good at this because he's been doing it since he was a puppy. Provided he is "in the mood" (read: hungry, energized & motivated!), he will offer up all sorts of stuff trying to figure out what I want, and it is SO f*****g cool to see those gears turning.
It takes a lot of time at first.. Patience is the only negative about training this way... but the more you do it, the better they get at it, and it is fascinating because the dog really is learning all on their own, as opposed to depending on you to lure or physically manipulate. It's neat, isn't it? I should tape one of our sessions...
Here is a video I found on youtube explaining free-shaping, too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFzfVa2hvEE <-- It's OK :)
The reason I went into all that is because that is exactly how I plan to teach it to Spark ;)
P.S. That is Spark Plug & I in the picture.. He is going to "Git' your leash!" which I taught him using this method! :)