Monday, August 08, 2005

Dog Training 101 Lesson #36

As I am here alone during the week with just my dog for company, many´s the night I spend teaching him new and even stupider tricks. He loves it. Currently i am using Clicker training to teach him tricks as it really is easy for both him and I.
Letley I have been trying to teach him "Schäm dich", the english translation I´m not sure of, but it is when he should look apologetic and put his paw over his nose. As its not something he often does on his own, it was difficult to capture and so I was using longs pieces of grass etc, and holding them on his nose so that he´d hit them. he sorta got the idea but it was going slowly.
Then at Stefan24´s birthday barbie 2 weeks ago, I had a conversation with Türkiz who has a gorgeous Goldie and also does Clicker training. Her hint was to stick Post-it Notes on his nose and let him paw them off.
It worked wonderfully! I´d sit down on the couch, clicker in one hand, bag of food behind me and armed with little flappy yellow things and Leon would sit alert in fornt of me trying every current trick he knows to get that food until I made him sit still. Stick a Post-it on him, he´d look at me patiently, all "Dunno whatchya think you´re doing there mate, but if there´s food involved I´ll put up with it". As it becomes obvious that sitting there well behaved isn´t going to get him a treat, he scratches at the annoying yellow thing stuck on his nose and CLICK!, he gets a treat.
Such a smart dog, the second time i stuck it on his nose, his paw was ready. We continued in that vein for a while before I started adding the command of "Bad boy". And that seemed to go well as well. I moved on to not using the clicker at all, just the command and a treat when he did it right (mind you, he isn´t leaving his paw there yet, just a quick swipe over the face to remove the post-it which I´m still using at this point). I know, I was moving too fast, but I was heady with success and he was high on doped up dog biscuits.
Finally I tried without the Post-it, leaving it lying on the floor after the last successful attempt. Leon sat there, looking at me expectantly, awaiting the annoying yellow thing, when I already gave the command "Bad boy".
Huh? But wait, where´s the yellow thing? Leon cocks his head to one side looking confused. Suddenly enlightment flashes in his eyes and he half jumps forward, landing with one paw perfectly on the discarded post-it, then looks at me, Huh, I did it, where´s the food, huh, huh?

I have proudly taught my dog to hunt Post-it Notes. He is available for hire to any small businesses or overworked secretaries.

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