Squirrel Learning a Handstand

squirrel-handstand1I’m excited to introduce a new GIF-nothing major, but inspired by someone I met straight off the street while I was running. I caught some motion in my peripheral vision as I was passing by a car parked in the driveway. A woman was picking up a large boulder for landscaping purposes. “I didn’t know there was a CrossFit studio in my neighborhood!” I exclaimed. In what may be the first time I’ve ever not been scowled at and otherwise ignored, this genius and uber-aware woman offered to let me move some boulders myself-“Only $15 for a day pass,” she pitched. Hardy har har har I guffawed, already liking her.


Well, we talked about my cute dogs and it came up that their family dog was trained by Sit Means Sit-known to actual human beings as Shock means Sit and (this story was offered by my new found conversant who strongly dislikes them with no prodding by me) Sitting usually means Shock–she described how the trainer told her to shock her dog when he sat crookedly-which results in poisoning the cue of sitting (the dog hears sit and then expects to get shocked, resulting in slow sits that get worse as the abuse mounts). Poisoning cues is a topic that I’ve discussed before and this is exactly how you get a dog who is trying to do what you want to wind up hearing you say “Sit” and then be scared to do it because he has been shocked for sitting-he doesn’t know crooked until you teach it and if he sits at all it indicates that he’s trying to do what you want and therefor you shouldn’t punish him for it. You’re on the same team! Or you should be.

I digress. One of the things that came up was the great trick this trainer’s dog, backing up on a wall. “But it’s too bad you have to shock the dog to do this,” my new friend ruminated.  I’ve been training (Free Shaping) Squirrel for six days, three minutes a day, for a total of 18 minutes of training to do this and she will perform the feat shown in this gif at least a dozen times in three minutes at this point. I’m not cuing her (I’ll wait until I have the complete perfectly executed behavior before naming it), haven’t touched her once during training, and she is well on her way to doing a complete handstand with nothing to lean against. I’ve always wanted to train a handstand and since Squirrel has practically nothing in the actual show at this point, it was easy to commit the training schedule to doing something I don’t really have a plan for.

So, look for a handstand in the show soon!