Our friends Dachshund Nola, Cascadian Nomads, and Tenacious Little Terrier came up with the brilliant idea to host a blog hop once a month to talk about Positive Training. You can learn more about the hop at any 3 of the hosts’ blogs.
I’ve been using Positive Training since I was 13 and Lassie was just a 2 month old ball of fluffy, chubby love. I used Positive Training techniques, without even realizing it, with both Lassie and Ella. When I added Petal to the family I started using it even more and decided to learn how to use a clicker as well. Best dollar I ever spent. Petal LOVES the clicker and food and learning. She’s the perfect student, if I do say so myself. Though I will say that she often gets over eager and tries to perform tricks before I ask for them, which doesn’t work because how can she do what I haven’t asked her to do yet? She can’t, so she ends up doing everything that I might ask, which leads to her looking rather silly and feeling confused. I simply ignore this until she calms down and gives me her full attention, then we get to work.
Today I thought I would share a trick I taught Petal when she was a puppy. It was a trick I taught her just for fun. Just to see if I could do it. I knew Petal could do it, easy, but I wasn’t so sure I could figure out how to train it. The trick was “Get the Light” aka turn off the light. To accomplish this she would have to jump up to the light switch and paw it just right to turn the light off. She already knew “touch” so we built on that.
I held my hand against the wall and asked her to “touch” it. I clicked and treated her when she did so. We did this a couple of times before I started removing my hand right before she could touch it, making her touch the wall instead. Click and treat. I was going to slowly have her make her way up the wall, making her touch a little higher and a little higher until we got to the light switch, but she got bored and I got bored, so we jumped ahead.
I started encouraging her to jump up onto the wall, clicking and treating every time she jumped up, whether she touched the wall or not. Once she got that down, I only clicked and treated when her paw made contact with the wall, extra praise and treats if she touched the frame around the light switch, which had a treat taped to it. Yes, I taped a dog treat to the light switch to her encourage her to gravitate towards the switch. That probably wasn’t necessary but it was amusing and it did bring her attention to the switch, making her aware of it. Once she mastered touching the wall and sniffing the light switch, I only clicked and treated when her paw touched the frame around the light switch. If she happened to pull the switch down as she touched the frame she got LOADS of praise and treats. Eventually I started clicking and treating only when she turned the light off.
I have a video of the end result. It was recorded a day or two after Petal learned the trick (after a day or two of training).
As the description reminded me, she was only 8 months old!
Also, please ignore my incredibly annoying voice.
It’s been a few months since she learned any new tricks, but her most recently learned tricks are High Five!, Spin, and Bow. We’ve started working on Beg/Sit Pretty just today. High Five! is her favorite trick. She practically taught it to herself a few months ago (in September maybe?) and I can tell it’s her favorite because she’ll consistently do it for free (no treat) and she’ll even do it for my family members, not just me. 😉
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