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Stacking Practice (Video Included) - Help, please?

1785 Views 3 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  RedyreRottweilers

I haven't shown in years, and am rusty. I want to really get better as a handler before I get my next show dog.

The video above had music set to it to cover up the background noise. I'm trying to upload a quiet one to Facebook, but it's taking ages.

Anyway, I do use clicker training when he gets his feet right. More of this video is attempts to encourage his feet into the right place (in hopes of getting free stacking down) rather than hand stacking, but I need to work on both. I'd never actually move feet with my feet in a ring.

I'd really, really appreciate constructive criticism.
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Ok, first things first. You need to learn how to use your body language more as opposed to using actual physicality to get the dog to move.

I can get Mirada to move any foot simply by pointing at it with my own (back) or telling her to step forward. I can get her to lean forward or back simply by slightly tipping my body forward, or slightly bringing my hands up to my belly and leaning back a little (with bait of course).

Use a food lure, and when he leans forward, mark and reward. Eventually you can put a name to it.

When teaching him to step up, again, use a food lure, and tell him to "step" as you pull the lure away. When he follows, even if it's just one foot, mark and reward. To get him to put feet BACK, lightly tap them with your own foot, and tell him "back". Doesn't matter if he just lifts up a foot and sets it down for now...the point is he responded. Mark and reward.

Eventually you should be able to just point at his feet, and tell him "step" or "back" and he'll adjust properly.
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Hmmm. I'm not sure how helpful it is to physically move his foot forward with yours when you are trying to teach a free stack. Hand stacking is where you physically put the dog in place and expect him to stay. Free stacking - you want the dog to voluntarily move his feet, as in he instigates the movement and is then rewarded. If you can lure him into taking the action I think he will learn faster.

I would start by teaching the dog to back up and move forward with you. Stand in front of him with a treat held between the thumb and fingers of BOTH hands. You want to use both hands directly in the middle of your body so that his attention is squarely into your middle. Treat about level with his head. He can lick it but not grab. Then lean forward and take small steps so that you are actually pushing him backwards. When he takes a step back then stop and give him the treat. After a couple repetitions ask for two steps. The goal is for him to take several steps backward in a straight line. Then also work on you backing up and having him step forward. At first you will reward any step forward, then you will start working on getting him to take small steps. Make your backward movements smaller, and start rewarding only when he takes small steps. Then start rewarding only when the front feet are roughly even, and then only when they are even.

You also gradually work at having him stay further away from you. The dogs always look better if they are a couple feet away instead of right under you and craning their necks to look up at the lure. When he steps in too close, use your body to push him backwards. I also do exercises to help him learn what his position should be relative to me. I will make a quarter turn in place, and then using the lure I bring him around so he is once again directly facing me. Also I will take a big step to one side and get him into position.

The ultimate goal is a dog who responds to your body language and space pressures. I can get him to move by leaning forward, backwards, sideways, etc. With practice those cues can become more and more subtle. Almost like a dance.

I prefer to free stack a dog by using the above methods to get their front squared up, and then teach them to move a rear leg backwards when requested. They are more likely to stay up on their front end if you can leave that planted and move the rear. It's easier than it sounds. Here's how I do it. I lean over to the side so I can look directly at the leg I want to move. Then I use my body language to push the dog backwards. Chances are that other legs will move but ignore them completely. As soon as that leg moves back, you will reward or even better click and reward. With a little practice, the dog will learn to move just that one leg when you are looking at it.

I recommend concentrating on just the front end at first. Once you are getting pretty good placement of the front feet, then start working on the back. With a dog, you can only really teach one thing at a time.

So that's how I do it. It's all about space games and pressures, and then rewarding the behavior you want.
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Quite a few vids of me training a couple of puppies to stack using the clicker on my YouTube channel.


Samshine, enjoyed reading your post! I have always taught them to plant the rear and move the front, but I'm interested in trying your way!
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