The command is pretty simple. I place him in a sit position, and then I ask him to "back up." He has to take about 3 steps and then return to a seated position. To teach Liam this trick, I:
- Placed him in a sit position while I kept a hot dog slice in my hand.
- Said "back up" as I moved the hot dog slice over his head.
- Clicked with the clicker and gave him the hot dog when he scooted back to keep tracking the hot dog as it moved.
He's at about 85 percent accuracy right now, but he sometimes gets confused and tries to go into a "down" position instead. I think my hand signals aren't quite clear enough. (You can see him glancing at my hand gesture in this video.)
He also dashes to the camera at the beginning of the video, as he sees me digging the hot dog slices out of the dish. And he has to think about the command a little, hence the delay. (As an aside, you don't hear a clicker on this video, basically because I don't have enough hands to hold a clicker, a hot dog and a camera all at the same time. I subbed in "Good job" instead.)
I am probably shaping Liam's commands too quickly. I need to go back to keeping the treat by his head consistently. Only when he's doing the command 100 percent right can I make it harder.
The next trick we'll try is something I'm calling "shimmy," which is essentially a full-body shakeout on command. This might be harder to teach, but I have high hopes.