In many of the positive dog training, canine musical freestyle and Rally Freestyle Elements workshops I have attended, instructors and participants have used homemade training platforms to teach heel, front, right and behind positioning, rear end awareness, play fun training games and more. I am a huge fan of Michele Pouliot training platforms but making platforms for all three of my dogs seemed a dauntingly expensive task. Most people make their own platforms by stacking and taping interlocking foam mats but at almost $4 per mat, it would be very expensive to make tall enough custom platforms for each of my dogs. Do-it-yourself training platforms just for Huxley's would have cost about $130 to make if I used only interlocking foam mats. When I met another freestyle workshop student with platforms made of rigid foam insulation, I knew I had finally found a way to make platforms for my dogs too. Jason and I made twelve platforms, one for each of the four positions for each dog, for around $100.
Here's what we used to make Wilhelm, Brychwyn and Huxley's training platforms:
- Measure and record the length and width each dog requires in a comfortable stand, adding 3-4 extra inches to the length and making sure the width is precise or only one inch wider for precise position training.
- Place the rigid foam insulation on the saw horses and measure to the recorded stand width.
- Clamp the straight edge onto the rigid foam insulation at the correct stand measurement.
- Sharpen a side edge of the putty knife with the metal file.
- Use the sharpened edge of the putty knife to cut the rigid foam insulation along the straight edge/stand measurement. Jason did an initial, shallow cut, removed the straight edge, and did a final, full cut.
- Measure the recorded stand length on the rigid foam insulation, clamp on the straight edge and cut.
- Repeat rigid foam insulation cutting for as many training platforms as needed.
- Lay out the interlocking foam mats.
- Place the rigid foam insulation cut to the dogs stand measurements on top of the interlocking foam matting.
- Use the duct tape along any interlocked foam matting seams that will be on the finished platforms.
- Use the utility knife to cut the interlocking foam mats to the same size as the rigid foam insulation cut to the dogs stand measurements. (Make sure to have something underneath to protect the cutting surface and the knife.)
- Use the duct tape to attach the interlocking foam matting to the rigid foam insulation and to protect the sides and edges of the rigid foam insulation on finished training platform.
- Begin platform training by clicking and rewarding any and all interest the dog shows in the new training tool.
Wilhelm has had experience with platforms so he and I used an "L" shape of two platforms to practice a heeling pivot. This is one of the hardest moves for dogs with little to no rear-end awareness to master. Wilhelm has a fairly reliable pivot but we haven't practiced it in a while. He didn't like his rear end falling off the platform so he corrected himself into the correct position very quickly. I also used platform to practice a "front" position.
All three dogs are going to have great success with their training platforms. The platforms will help the dogs keep their rear-ends in check when moving through sit-stand-down in heel, front and at a distance. Brychwyn and Huxley will refine their sloppy pivots and Wilhelm and I have a new fun way to practice his heel turns. I look forward to teaching right heels and especially a "behind" position. The dog training platforms are all about having fun in position and there are so many fun positions to learn.
Welcome to November's Positive Pet Training Blog Hop hosted by Cascadian Nomads, Dachshund Nola & Tenacious Little Terrier. Our theme this month is rear end awareness but any positive reinforcement training posts are encouraged. The Linky is open all week so pet bloggers, please join us. Readers can share positive pet training stories through comments or on any of the hosts social media. Next months hop will begin December 1st and the theme will be "Rewards: treats, toys, play, etc." All of the Cascadian Nomads pets are looking forward to that hop!