Tuesday, July 3, 2012

"Hot Dog"

Teaching your dog a fun trick can have practical applications as well as a fun way to show off your furry friend to guests at your next barbecue.  Truffle helped me show "Leave It" on KOLR 10 and KOZL this morning.  She had extreme self control!  Tom Trtan was holding a plate of hot dogs in font of her for at least five minutes while we talked.  When we were wrapping up she noticed I wasn't paying attention and she went for the plate.  Really who could blame her?

The basic behavior you are teaching your dog when they are learning "Leave It" is to look away from whatever you are focused on and look at me or back away from the object.  Depending on the response you want you will reinforce that action.  

To begin, hold a handful of treats in one hand with your fist closed.  Let the dog smell and lick your hand trying to get the treats.  When the dog looks away from your hand or sits back away from the treats mark that behavior and give them a treat.  Give them treats out of your other hand so they don't think they can get the object you just told them to leave. I believe using a clicker for a marker is the most tool to use but you can use your yes word as well.  Repeat this several times until the dog automatically looks away.  At this time you can begin saying "Leave It".  This command doesn't have to be said in a mean tone you can teach it in a happy voice.

As the dog gets better at this begin presenting the treats with an open hand as you say "Leave It".  If they try to grab the treats close your hand.  When they get good at the open hand start laying the treats on the floor.  Then start dropping the treats the treats while telling the dog to "Leave It".  

Truffle leaving a hot dog on a plate.
Practical uses for this include when you drop medication on the floor, kids run by with food in their, or you are eating at the coffee table.  I have used it when I was walking and we came upon a dead squirrel and I wanted the dogs to leave it alone.

The trick that I incorporate is having the dog lay down and lay treats on their paws while telling them to leave it.  You may need to shotgun treats the first few times so they leave the treat on their paw alone. Make sure they only get to eat the treats out of your hand they can't have the treat off their paw.  If you want to be really  "mean" you can see how many treats you can lay on their legs lined up.

Most of all use this training as a relationshipbuilder!  You can trust your dog to not snatch food or harmful things plus have a cute trick to show off to your friends.  

1 comment: