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Stacking 101

Discussion in 'Training & Behavior' started by Dobs4ever, Nov 21, 2011.

  1. Dobs4ever
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    Dobs4ever Addicted Member Hot Topics Subscriber $ Forum Donor $

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    I am going to post some info for those who have an interest in learning to stack. I feel it has value not only for the show dog but for the home body as well. Stacking is an exercise about learning to be touched all over and examined so it does have a place outside the show ring. Many times you would just like a really nice pictures of your dog and stacking presents them at their very best PLUS it shows you have worked with them and spent a little time teaching this exercise. It is nice to tell your dog to stand for exam at the vets so it is a useful tool to have in your training box.

    I will be posting some videos as I get them done showing the start through finish of stacking. First you have hand stack and then you have a free stack. I teach them both at the same time but in different settings.


    Hand stack is when you set the dog up by holding the head up and placing the feet and PLEASE don't forget that darn tail. I use this to teach porper feet placement - For the front feet I use the work STEP and for the back feet I use PLACE. As the dog learns these commands they will sone be self stacking themselves in the free stack - but it does take time.

    I start puppies on a table. Cream cheese is an easy treat to use as they usually love it and I can smear it on a small plastic lid to save on the fingers. I have some of the square rubber mats for kids at school and have it cut to fit the table so the puppy does not slip and get frightened. I set them up on the table and use the the cream cheese to entice them to stand. As long as they stand they can lick the cream cheese and I tell them good stand. As they get comfortable with this I then start to place feet - Always start at the front end with the front feet. I hold their little heads and I say step and place a front foot and then the other - if they hold still I treat them and let them lick the cream cheese. If they move a foot I say no and remove the cream cheese and go back to hold the head as I say step and place the front feet again. When both front feet are stacked I say stand and treat and let them lick the cream chesse. If this time they hold it - I slowly and lightly rub one hand down the back to help relax them and say stand good stand - what a pretty puppy as they are licking the cream cheese.

    It is important from each step to stop and let the puppy move around a little to relax then come back and do the same thing again.

    When I have a very solid front stack I now start to work with the placement of the back feet. I start at the front and set the front feet first. It is very very important to rub your hand down the back to let them know where you are going so it does not surprise them. If you have rubbed down their back from the front stack and got them relaxed they should not be as surprised when you rub on down each back leg and and soft touch back up the tail. As long as they are not moving I let them continue to lick the cream cheese. Do this til they are comfortable with you rubbing all the way down each leg and back up to the tail.

    It is very important to do it the exact same way each time. Now you are ready to start with the back legs. Set up the front, rub down the back and down each back leg and set the tail - Then go to one of the back legs and say PLACE and just move it 1/2 inch and say Place and let them lick the cream cheese. Then move to the other leg and say place - Don't worry about getting it far enough back right now. We just want them to get comfortable with you moving it and holding it in place. When you get both front and back legs set I then take hold of the collar and hold up the head a little and say stand to reinforce the not moving and standing in place. Do this two or three times a day til they stand in place as long as you hold the cream cheees for them to lick. Then you can start when you take hold of the collar move the cream cheese out in front of them say STAND and have them hold it then reward.

    This starts the hand stack. Now for free stacking.

    As a puppy I start with sit down stand and do a sit stand and a down stand. I teach the puppy right away that I want a stand straight up from the down position or sit position and I want a sit or a down complete from the stand position. In other words I do not want the puppy to be standing and say down and have the puppy sit first then go down. I want the puppy to go straight into the down and straight up into the stand and bypass the sit.

    This makes it easier then to teach the free stack. At this point I put the puppy on leash and have them down - then ask them to stand with the treat out in front of them to encourage them to move up into the stand. They will want to keep walking to get to the treat but that is not what I want - I want them to stand and not move. So I hold the leash up and taught and say stand - as they walk I say no Stand. They will tend to sit and I just remind them no STAND - and continue to hold the leash up til they don't move then reward. This takes a little time and you will want to be sure you do not pull back on the leash and encourage the sit but hold it straight up and a little forward towards the head to encourage them to hold the stand. Then I build up on the time they stand and watch the treat before treating. This is the very basic starting teaching the stacking.

    Please post your questions and I will address each one. I will try to get some videos this weekend to post if possible and weather is nice.
  2. JanS
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    JanS DCF Owner Staff Member Administrative Staff

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    Thank you so very much Suzan!!! :ty::thumbsup: Since this is something we're "trying" to work on with Albert, this is going to be very helpful to us.
  3. Marinegeekswife
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    Marinegeekswife Moderator Staff Member Hot Topics Subscriber $ Forum Donor $

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    Thank you! I look forward to trying this out.
  4. Dobs4ever
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    Dobs4ever Addicted Member Hot Topics Subscriber $ Forum Donor $

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    Glad you all like it. Let me know if you have any problems and I can tell you how to correct it. It is hard to do on paper and much easier in person. I hope to have a beginning video to help soon.

    I will say this to me it is not much different thatn teaching the stand for exam for obedience. Stand is stand. For stacking I just teach them how I want them to stand.

    I will add when you say step to set the front feet I will put the leash just slightly opposite of the front foot I want them to move then later I can use that cue to say step and they know which front foot I want moved. So for ecample if the right front foot needs to move I put slight pressure pulling on the leash or collar to the left that puts the balance and pressure on the left foot encouraging them to move the right foot. If they move it I say YES and reward saying good step!!!.
  5. StarlightDobe
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    StarlightDobe Addicted Member Hot Topics Subscriber

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    As food motivated as Bella is I wonder if she wouldnt be more interested in the cream cheese than anything I am telling her.
  6. Max Hawk
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    Max Hawk Addicted Member Hot Topics Subscriber

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    Very much appreciated Suzan I like working on it just for fun. I never thought much about it before but for me it's fun and makes for beautiful pics too even if we don't show em!:thumbsup::ty::ty::ty::paw::paw::paw:
  7. Dobs4ever
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    Dobs4ever Addicted Member Hot Topics Subscriber $ Forum Donor $

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    Glad you are enjoying it. As far as being more interested in the cream cheese that is why I use the plastic lid. My guys can make a finger bloody in a heart beat. It slows them down as they have to lick it to try to get it off and that brings up a good point.

    Part of what you have to teach is control - The food comes after the performance. The food is the motiviator and the dog should be taught to focus on you not the food. In obedience regardless of which hand the food is in the dog must be focused on me not the food. If you do not teach this control and where the focus is then the dog can't learn.

    The dogs attention should be one you not the food - they hae to learn to pay attention and that the reward only comes from correct execution of the command.
  8. Rits
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    Rits Moderator Staff Member Hot Topics Subscriber

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    Thanks so much Suzan! Even though they aren't showing, this will be good to teach to my two to stand nicely and just for fun. Good practice for me too for a future dobe puppy when the time comes. :)
  9. JanS
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    JanS DCF Owner Staff Member Administrative Staff

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    That's exactly what I said myself! A nicely stacked dog always makes for a great photo, even if you're not showing them. :)
  10. Marinegeekswife
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    Marinegeekswife Moderator Staff Member Hot Topics Subscriber $ Forum Donor $

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    And like she said its great for vet trips and groomer trips, too.
  11. paintinsthegame
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    paintinsthegame Addicted Member Hot Topics Subscriber

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    Thank you sooo much for this and for taking the time to show me how it is done.
  12. Dobs4ever
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    Dobs4ever Addicted Member Hot Topics Subscriber $ Forum Donor $

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    Paint you are welcome. I am excited for you and Drake - He is a nice boy and you guys should have a blast. I am so jealous that you live right there near that beautiful facility. It is state of the art and all for the dogs!!
    Judith Whelan, EARL97850 and Max Hawk like this.
  13. Katja Henriksen
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    Katja Henriksen Addicted Member Site Sponsor $ Forum Donor $

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    Great post Suzan.

    I'm glad Easter was taught this by the breeders before we got her at 10 moths old. She was supposed to be a show dog. Now she pretty much stacks herself when she models my products for pictures. ;)
    SandyinKS, Ethel, EARL97850 and 3 others like this.
  14. paintinsthegame
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    paintinsthegame Addicted Member Hot Topics Subscriber

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    That was the first time I saw the event center myself. Pretty impressive.
    I think this showing thing might be fun. Most of the people I met were really nice and I enjoyed this weekend. We will have to see if Drake likes it. He is getting back to his old self now that we have been out and about. My family here in Memphis have fallen in love with him.
  15. Hello123
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    Hello123 New Member

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    My question about stacking refers to these boxes you see,that have slats across them.The pup stands on the slats.It's not something I would ever use personally.Does anyone know about their use?

    I've seen pictures of very young puppies on these boxes and it always puts me off.Am I being over judgmental about it?
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  16. Dobs4ever
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    Dobs4ever Addicted Member Hot Topics Subscriber $ Forum Donor $

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    I know people who use them - I am probably lazy - For me is is just easier to teach correct foot placement than teach the stand on the box and then transfer it back to the ground. But some people swear by them. For me it jsut seems double work. But nothing wrong if it helps someone accomplish what they need.

    Helio os not great yet but I showed Paint at the show that first I taught him to stand and not try to WALK for the treat but to stand still. Then on the table (easier on my back to reach a puppy and hand stack) I work foot placement. When I say STEP I want the front feet to move. If the left front foot is behind the right then I put pressure on the collar by pulling it to the right a little and pulling the weight off the left foot. When he moes it I say STEP and reward and then the same reversed for the right front foot.

    They have to learn this anyway for better control so I don't mess with the post squares. For the back feet I use my head more as the clue - and depending on which side I hold it I want the back foot moved. You really can't teach this on the stacking blocks.''I also teach him to back up a step and then pull him forward into the stack - this will often help if you need to adjust a foot.
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  17. Dobs4ever
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    Dobs4ever Addicted Member Hot Topics Subscriber $ Forum Donor $

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    Pictures of stacked dogs Rayna - a Shrock Daughter
    Rayna10-11.jpg
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  18. Dobs4ever
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    Dobs4ever Addicted Member Hot Topics Subscriber $ Forum Donor $

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    BlkBlu2.jpg
    Some stacked puppies - They're Ayla Babies
    BluFlynn.jpg

    BlkGirl.jpg
    The above is Anja who won the puppy contest last year.

    FawnGirl2.jpg
    This is our little Bella who is now CH Echorun's Stormin Isabella

    You can't teach foot placment all at once - it is first getting them used to you picking up the foot and placing it down and having them hold it. I do this with the front end first - Then go to the back end. Same way every single time so they know what to expect.
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  19. Hello123
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    Hello123 New Member

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    The boxes are really popular.I figured there was some type of rhyme to using them.I would be concerned , not using them properly, might covey a feeling of insecurity in the puppy.Then again...I'm not familiar with them and I am a cautious person by nature.I have noticed that the breeders, who use them, do tend to get a very good stack.Maybe a touch too mechanical for me?I like a very flash and showy dog,but not a rote performance.Maybe I'm out of fashion or too permissive.

    Interesting topic.A good looking stack can be very hard to achieve,even with a confident and well trained dog.I've seen many dogs look different in their stack depending on the handler and the day.You often hear a handler described as 'so and so can really stack a dog right'.It's a skill for people to learn,as much as any type of training exercise for the dog.Be patient.

    Glad to hear people expressing an interest in teaching their older dog some new tricks.The training can bring more than just a beautiful photo for the owner.Stack training can be a real confidence booster for many adult dogs.Just lifting them up seems to be positive, in itself, for them.It can also teach focus without confusion.If that makes any sense?

    Dobs4ever ,Your pups look very confident and secure to me.
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  20. Dobs4ever
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    Dobs4ever Addicted Member Hot Topics Subscriber $ Forum Donor $

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    Thanks they LOVE cream cheese!!! Stacking is like anything else you just need to learn the secrect to get the best out of the dog. It is not different than obedience, tracking, IPO, or stacking. It is building a relationship with the dog and if you know what you are doing it is really pretty easy to get it out of them.

    You will find far more of the little foo foo dog people who use the boxes. Not near as many of the larger breeds.

    When you both are learning it is much harder. Once you understand the steps it becomes much easier - Gosh it is called a learning curve. We all have one.

    I guess that is probably where my biggest frustraton comes in when innocent new people go to a web site and do not see one single stacked picture of a dog but think that is a good breeder. They will show pictures of dogs that look swayed back standing out free in the year but nothing that is impressive like a nice stacked dog where you can tell a lot about the conformation.

    I really don't understand why someone thinks that is quality if they have seen any of the web sites of breeders who actually do something with their dogs. Just the pictures alone would tell me steer clear - this person does not know what they are doing. Yet look at the number of folks who get taken in by them.

    A nice stacked picture does say a lot about the dogs and the breeder - it does show you know something - and at least care enough to show off your dogs.

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