Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Teach your dog a quick trick -- Say Your Prayers

First you will need to teach your dog to put their "paws up" on something. I teach my dog to stand up on a horse feed bucket, which is very useful for teaching a myriad of tricks and behaviors

They cost 10 bucks at a feed store. Worth it. A local trainer tricks out a clementine box and makes it no slip, by gluing bits of rug on the bottom corners and remnants of rug on the top. You can also use a step stool, books, weighted five gallon bucket, and even the soon to be extinct phone book. Use your imagination.

I freeshape putting paws up with a clicker but you could also use your voice as a marker.
Remember whenever you use a food lure -food in front of the dog's nose, you need to fade it as quick as possible so the dog does not get reliant on the lure.

One day in class I had a slip and called it Relurant. Don't you love my new training word? Don't let your dog get relurant! Freeshaping is wonderful tool, plus it teaches your dog how to think and problem solve, and I think it makes for a more fun partnership.

After your dog is comfortable putting their paws on something, take it different places. If you are using a base that is not stable and it moves our from under your dog's feet, be sure to throw them a party. Lots of happy talk and lots of treat rewards. Things that wobble are good for building trust, brave dogs, and future agility dogs and skateboarders! But for some dogs, they will shut down if the base moves, so choose your base wisely. Base choice will also depend on the height of your dog for this trick. 

Now here is the key part. Put food in both of your hands. Feed the dog a treat, or just get him interested with your hand that is furthest away from the dog to keep him busy, while you slip your other hand with food up between his paws and lure the dog's head down between their legs. Feed feed feed with the dog's head lowered!! Remember behavior that is rewarded is likely to be repeated. This trick is a trickier than most to fade the lure. Start naming this trick just before the food appears between their paws and they will start looking for it in short time. You will click this, and soon will be clicking for increased durations of head between front legs. You may find your dog's front leg closest to you moves onto your hand. This is ok, only for the first  few times. 

You don't need to call this trick say your prayers if you don't want to. Where are you? Want to go to the Vet? Who wants a bath? Be creative. Some of my favorite tricks are simple behaviors with hilarious names.


update 5/9
Here is Beck making progress. At this stage he has offering the behavior without a lure. I am rewarding him  between his front legs to strengthen the behavior. He pretty much has the trick on cue, now we are working towards longer durations.

Good dog Beck!

This post is dedicated to  Mel. Good luck teaching this trick to your clever dog walking client.

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