I'm sitting in a wheelchair, Ike faithfully by my side. I cue "let's go" and Ike moves forward with me. Going straight is pretty easy for Ike, he learns quickly to keep his feet out of the way and settles at an even pace. We're at Harris Teeter grocery store, doing a training field trip and I'm in a wheelchair to help mimic Ike's future surroundings.
Here comes the hard part — now we have to turn. It's an inside turn, which means Ike has to actually go backward just a bit to keep out of the way. His circle has to be tighter (smaller) than the wheelchair's circle. Uh-oh. We've not practiced this before.
With the clicker, all things are possible. And fast.
In only three tries, I'm communicating to Ike that moving backward is a good thing. It's a pretty complex skill, I think, for a dog to acquire. He has to go the opposite way from his handler. I've spent a year teaching him that being next to me is a really good idea.
The clicker gives Ike the information he needs: what behavior he should repeat. The precision of the click — and the fact that Ike's been clicker trained from 8-weeks of age — gets a behavior happening pretty darn quick.
The turn/back still needs work. A lot of it. But with the clicker, nothing's out of our reach. And it's fast. Because Ike knows the clicker, knows he can count on the clicker for information, he's ready and willing to learn. He wants to figure out this new game. He's a full and willing partner.
And did I mention he's not only smart, but pretty stinkin' cute, too? Brains and beauty… This picture's from Ike's adventure to Lake Anna, more on that in the next post.