I've been teaching Shyla how to target things with each of her paws. The idea is that this teaches her how to consciously use each paw on cue. It helps her with body awareness. and it helps her to learn to follow my cues.
Shyla has known how to do some simple targeting for a long time. It's a great technique for photography. I ask her to put her paws on something and to stay. Then I can take her photo. Alternatively, I often ask her to add another trick with the paw targeting. In this case, she targeted the boulder and then waved.
In the next photo, she took a bow while targeting a boulder with her front paws.
Recently, we took a course in which she learned much more specificity in her targeting. After going through a series of targeting training exercises, she can now target small discs with each front paw and each hind paw. If you look through my Youtube Channel for videos about targeting, you can see the progression that we followed.
I taught her this targeting using shaping. Initially, I put a target on the floor, and I clicked and rewarded her whenever she paid attention to it (as little as looking at it). Then, I waited for her to touch it with a paw to click and treat. After she touched that target with the correct paw 80% of the time that I asked her to, I introduced another target which was for a different paw. We went through the shaping process for each paw until she hit that target with the correct paw 80% of the time. We did that for all four paws.
All of this targeting with her paws had her in the right state of mind to start learning to walk on a ladder. Walking on a ladder is simply a process of targeting each rung with her paws. Shyla is within the first week of learning to walk on a ladder but she's doing great! Check out the short video.
I plan to teach her a more continuous walking style and then eventually tilt the ladder upward a bit. The ladder is currently only 4" off the ground for safety while she's learning.
I love positive training. You'll notice that there's never punishment for messing up. With her history of positive training with me, she knows what the goal of a given exercise is based on what gets her a click and treat. It's so much fun working with a dog who is so attuned with me!