Over spring break, I took on the challenge of trying to teach my dog to stand on his hind legs when I said “up”. My original plan for the 10 hour spring project was to learn Claire de Lune on the piano, however, once the covid-19 pandemic hit, I no longer had access to a piano. I was at home and desperately trying to come up with a project that would take 1o hours, be achievable at home, and be something I enjoyed doing. Inspiration struck when I was grabbing a snack from the kitchen one day and my dog started begging on his hind legs. I had no idea my dog could even stand on his hind legs. This made me wonder if I could teach him to stand on his hind legs on command.
I first consulted YouTube to see if there was a tutorial on how to teach your dog to stand on its hind legs. After watching the short video, I decided to try it with my dog. I held a treat above his nose as shown in the video and said “up” but instead of standing on his hind legs, he just stared at it. The unsuccessful attempts went on for about two hours over the span of a few days until I decided to give up because it didn’t seem to be working. A week later, I decided to try it again with a fresher mindset. I consulted the training modules from my Four Paws for Ability online orientation. There were no specific sections about training a dog to stand on its hind legs, but there was a general theme when it came to teaching a dog commands. I followed the basic principles: take breaks frequently, stay patient, and give praise for a job well done. I once again tried to teach my dog the command and after some trial and error, I found that if I held the treat above his nose and raised it up sharply, he would stand on his hind legs. It took many repetitions but I eventually got him to stand on his hind legs without a treat, on command.
Time management was a bit of a challenge at first because I wanted to try to complete the project in only a few days. This strategy did not work because training with dogs should take course over shorter intervals to hold their attention span and avoid frustration. I changed my approach to training for no more than 15 minutes consecutively. The main thing I would do differently in a year-long Capstone project would be to have a more thorough plan for achieving my goal in the beginning, rather than formulating the plan as I go. This was a bit unavoidable because of the pandemic, but better preparation will hopefully be more possible next year.