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Target Training for a dog with poor peripheral vision

MurphysMom

Little Dog
Not about my apbt, but my lab Molly who is 7. We got her from a terribly neglectful situation 6 years ago. She was on a short chain with no shelter and little/no water in the dead of winter up in the mountains. She is not very well bred but has the happy, silly, dumb as a sack of hammers lab personality. She's cross eyed. When we got her, vet said she shouldn't have any problems with her eyesight but now that were in a different training class, I can see it IS a problem. We are working on hand targeting and if I move my hands away from ky body its like she can't see them anymore. If its right in front of her she has no problems, and if I'm asking her to target my right hand its no problem. It's the left hand she has trouble with (so that would be her right sided peripheral vision) Any ideas about this?
 

Leslie H

Good Dog
Introduce a verbal cue that tells her to turn her head right to look for something? You could teach her a left/right cue. Maybe start by just moving your hand a small increment?
I know agility dogs that know right/left commands.
 

LilianaLove

GRCH Dog
Lily knows left and right commands. We did this when teaching a formal heel. A right command signified turning right, a left command signified turning left. She's proven to me that she can transfer this training to agility (though me and my inexperience frequently forgets to use it to my advantage).

The only other thing I can think of is maybe it isn't just a vision problem, it may also be a training problem. Most dogs have a preferred side. Just like people can be right or left handed, dogs also have a preferred way to move. Lily's preference is to her right. We use these preferences to teach dogs box turns in flyball; you want to load the ball on the side the dog is most comfortable turning, thus Lily's ball gets loaded in the position where she can turn right into it. Other dogs with left preferences are loaded such that they can turn left into it. Lily also prefers to 'spin' to her right, and while she'll do it to the left, definitely does it much better and quicker to her right.

You may have found yourself with a dog that orients more to the left than to the right, and you may need to increase your reinforcement of hand targeting. One reason I can think for this, if not a physiological preference, is that most people are right handed, and, believe it or not, fail to alternate the hand in which the treat is given, even when training touch commands to particular hands. If your dog knows there is food in the right hand, it will very quickly and confidently, touch the right hand. If the you then command the dog to touch your left hand, even if you put food in it, it's very likely your dog is already oriented to your right hand and must go through the thought process of reorienting itself to the left hand. To adjust for this, routinely show your dog an empty palmed right hand if you ask for a touch to your left hand and the dog looks confused. Seeing your right hand empty, she may more quickly reorient to the left.

Now, this is all assuming that the peripheral vision is not impaired. If she truly does have peripheral vision impairment, teaching her a simple right and left should help her reorient herself and find your hand. Although, I will say, a dog that understands the 'touch' command should seek out your hand to touch when given the command. The fact that she is not doing this is representative of her not completely understanding the command. Especially when dogs have learned this through shaping, they will routinely seek out whatever it is you want them to touch, even if not given a command to touch, especially with food present.

You say she has difficulty when you move your hands away from your body. More likely than vision issues, she doesn't understand the touch command in that context. Bring it back to basics, make sure she truly understands what you're asking from her. From the sounds of it, she doesn't have a firm grasp on what your asking, which is why she is not seeking out your hand even if she has vision issues.

I hope that made sense.