Sunday, January 4, 2009

"Cross Your Paws" & "Are You Sad?"

With the frigid weather, I'm trying to keep the boys busy indoors.

Romeo's list of "stupid dog tricks" is pretty pathetic, so I thought it was a good time to start on expanding a bit. We started working on "Cross your paws" and "Are you sad?". "Cross your paws" is coming along very well, the "sad" one is a work in progress.

How I teach "Cross your paws" ... (please excuse the scruffy paws, Romeo's toe-day is tomorrow)

1: Teach a "shake a paw" where the dog will place his paw in your offered hand.
2: Place the dog in a "down" and ask for the paw, only click/treat when they offer the paw while still laying down. Repeat ad nauseum.
3: Gradually begin to move your hand to the side so that the dog has to reach his offered paw over top of the paw still on the ground.
4: Eventually, you should be able to place your hand palm up on the ground on the opposite side of the still paw.
5: Once the dog is doing this step consistently, quickly move your hand out of the way as the dog offers the paw so that he places his paw on the ground instead of in your hand.

Gio already knows "Cross your paws" with the left over the right, so now we are working on right over left, which I am calling "Be a gentleman".

Both boys are also working on "Are you sad?". Gio already has this trick, I'm just working on cleaning it up as he's been getting a little sloppy lately. Romeo doesn't know this one at all yet, so it's right from step one for him.

How I train "Are you sad?" ...

1: Get a piece of tape (scotch, masking, electric, medical, etc.) and place it over the dog's muzzle so that it sticks a little bit to the fur and/or whiskers. Just enough to be irritating.
2: When the dog paws at the tape, click/treat. Repeat ad nauseum.
3: Once the dog is consistently and purposefully pawing at his nose, remove the tape and hope that he repeats the action. If so, click/treat, HUGE praise! If not, replace the tape, making it a smaller piece and not sticking it as much to the fur. Make the tape smaller and smaller so as to still illicit the response but gradually fading the tape away.

Romeo isn't consistent enough to get a good picture, so here is Gio with his cleaned up version. It can be done standing, sitting, or laying down. What works best for you will depend on your dog. With Gio's long legs, laying down or sitting seems easiest. With Romeo's wee little legs, standing seems easiest.

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