A while back, probably a couple months ago, Isaac and I were walking on this bike path and came to a bridge. It wasn't a real long bridge, but it was metal and kind of like a grate. There were small holes in the metal and you could see the creek below. Isaac has walked on metal surfaces before but for some reason, he balked at this bridge. Refused to cross it. I had treats in my pocket but nothing high value and he did not want them badly enough to put one foot on the bridge. We ended up turning around and walking the other way.
This bike path is
not close to my home. We were just there because I had an appointment
in the area and had a little extra time. But I decided I wanted to try
to find a similar surface to work with him on. We do not need to cross
metal grate bridges often (or ever) but I want Isaac to be able to walk
on all sorts of surfaces and to trust me if I tell him a surface is Ok
even if it's one he's never ever seen before.
I found a place
near our home with a similar bridge, though it's just a bit shorter.
I took a handful of pepperoni and we set out to conquer the scary
bridge. My plan for the first training session at the bridge was to give
him a slice of pepperoni near the bridge, then put a slice on the
bridge but close to the end so he could reach it without putting a foot
on the bridge, then to attempt to coax him to put one or both front feet
on the bridge in order to reach more pepperoni. I was prepared to make
multiple trips to the bridge and intended to gradually over time
require him to move further onto the bridge in order to get a high value
Isaac is incredibly food motivated. He was hesitant to
put his front feet on the bridge but willing to do it. In fact, he was
willing to slowly follow me all the way across the bridge, eating
pepperoni out of my hand the entire way!
Once we crossed the
bridge, he got to run around and take a swim in a pond before we crossed
the bridge again to get back to our car. He was less hesitant that
time, although still a bit concerned. I was out of pepperoni (we could
have gone around a long way if he'd refused to cross the bridge without
the pepperoni) but he was willing to do it for some lower value treats.