Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Sunday, August 19, 2012
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Ever see dogs on TV do some really cool tricks and wonder that your dog could never do them. Think again, it’s easier than you think and I’m going to show you how.
Teaching dogs tricks, serves several purposes. First of all, it’s fun. Second of all, it stimulates their mind. And lastly it elevates your rank in a positive sort of way.
I teach new behaviors exclusively with a clicker (operant conditioning). It’s the same way trainers at Sea World train Dolphins. If you are not sure on how to use one properly, drop me a line and I’ll show you.
Let’s start with “beg”. First your dog should be fluent with the sit. Once the dog is sitting, take a piece of food and hold it just above the dog’s head out of reach. Once the dog starts to get up to get the food, click and treat and say “beg”. Assigning a word to the behavior now identifies to the dog, what you want him to do. And clicking “marks” the behavior. What I did with my German Shepherd, Heidi, was after I got her fluent in “begging” I then took it to a higher level. Once she was begging I then said “higher” and held the reward even higher. The behavior has now morphed into standing on her hind legs.
The next really cool trick to teach your dog is “shame”. You know when the dog covers its nose with its paw. First of all we start with the sitting position. Then take a piece of tape rolled over to where you join both ends to form a loop. Stick it to the top of their nose. When the dog uses its paw to knock the tape off, click and treat and say “shame”. Start to form a behavior.
How about, “high five”. This is relatively easy and most behaviors start as something else then morph into a finished product. Again, start with sit. Then “paw”. If your dog doesn’t know “paw” than drop me a line and I’ll be glad to get you started. Gradually, hold your hand higher and higher, making the dog reach to place its paw in your hand. Then, turn your hand over as if to “high five”, click, treat, and identify the behavior with “high five”.
Here’s a good one, “shake”. My dachshund, Fritz mastered that one. Look at everyday behaviors as “training opportunities”. I learned that when I would brush Fritz’s ears, he would shake his head after that. So I would brush his ears, he would shake and I would assign the word “shake”, click and treat. And after much repletion, he figured it out.
Next on the hit parade is “roll over”. The baseline for this is the down. Put your dog in a down. Then, with a treat in hand, make a circular motion in front of the dog and say “over”. You may have to physically start to roll them over while you’re doing this. Once more, even if they only go half way, click treat and say “over”. Keep this up until they make a complete revolution. Fritz is a master at this and even will go the other way when I tell him.
There are an infinite amount of behaviors you can teach your dog. Remember, patience, repetition and reward is key. Always teach your dog to seek reward rather than to avoid correction. Remember this stuff should be fun. Dogs live to play. We humans should take a lesson. How cool is it when friends come over, to go through a routine of trick with your dog. I guarantee they will be impressed. Maybe someday your dog and you will end up on TV. All it takes is practice.