Amping Up The Training - Need Help!

Discussion in 'Dog Tricks' started by luckylego, Oct 24, 2012.

  1. luckylego Experienced Member

    Hey guys,

    So I've come to the conclusion that my dog, when properly motivated, is so much more brilliant than I give her credit for. I can't believe how much more eagerly she listens ever since we started working on her focus. I honestly feel like we're communicating way more clearly. Because of this, I really want to take advantage and start using her new found focus to teach her some new tricks! The ones on the list right now are "smile" "play dead" and "cover your eyes". But I'm pretty sure I have an idea how to do the last one.. Where I'm stuck is how to teach her a fun version of play dead WITHOUT having to sit pretty. Unfortunately because of her missing back leg, she doesn`t balance very well in that position. She knows how to roll onto her side, but thats about it. Any ideas?

    Where I'm completely clueless is how to teach smile. Lego never offers that behaviour, so catching her to click and treat is pretty much impossible. Is there any way to teach smile to a non smiling dog?

    Thanks in advance :)

  2. Mutt Experienced Member

    I have no experience with teaching smile, but for obdience class we had to teach the dog to show teeth, meaning that I had to 'pull' up the lip in front of their front teeth (god how do I explain that clearly). Boef now offers it her self (giving me a 'smile') if I anticipate of doing it (still need to capture it though). Maybe this is a idea? Key is to make it a fun experience (giving a treat for the slightest touch to the muzzle) and not forcing/hurting the dog. A lot of people forced it in de class and had a dog that would dug away to avoid the hand (not a great dogschool thats also a reason why I quit), while Boef doesn't bother/mind me doing it and knows she will get a treat afterwards.

    As for the playing dead act. Mayb first making a spin and than dropping dead? With maybe a little limp in between?
  3. Adrianna & Calvin Experienced Member

    Hmm my dog can't sit pretty (he is a stumpy-legged dog and can't balance) but when I taught the regular 'play dead' he took it upon himself to do it a bit slow, and I left it like that. So he drops down and then takes a few seconds to roll to his side and then belly up.

    I think it's cute to teach the 'plain' version and make the release cue the word 'dead' (or 'alive'), so you can ask the frozen 'dead' dog, are you hurt? Have you been shot? are you ok? are you *dead*? (And have the dog pop up when you ask if she's alive or dead.)
    Dogster and Mutt like this.
  4. Dogster Honored Member

    I taught Shivon play dead from a down position. You could try teaching it to Lego from a down position, then maybe from a standing position. You could also teach her to roll over halfay, so she's lying on her back.:) Shivon eventually started to flop down on the ground LOL, like she understood what "dead" means.:D I think the hardest thing for you to teach Lego will be to stay still when she's lying there, LOL. She's just soo energetic!!!!:D
    MaryK, southerngirl and Mr-Remington like this.
  5. luckylego Experienced Member

    I love that you say that, because I thought the exact same thing - until we had an accidental breakthrough after I posted this :D I was just going through her known commands, trying to polish up her "over" cue (not a roll over, when I say "over" she rolls onto her side/back with her legs semi in the air).. And at one point I pulled out a super high value reward (a stick - go figure) and she just lost her brain. She was dancing around me doing every trick she could think of and wasn't interested in stopping to wait for a command, she was determined to figure it out herself.. So finally I got tired of waiting for her to just sit still and while she was in the "over" position I said, "Lego, just CHILL". To my disbelief she put her legs and head down and laid flat on her side on the ground.. Totally still - aside from a couple glances up at me to make sure she had done something good. Once I got over my shock I clicked immediately and gave her a jackpot of treats.. Now she does it every time, and will even stay in a "chill" position for longer periods of time if I tell her to stay!! The only downside is that shes now anticipating that it's going to come right after an "over".. So after she receives her treat for doing that she goes right into a limp "chill" and looks up expectantly. I'm not sure if I want to encourage that, or if I need to throw her off so that she stops getting ahead of me..

    So.. Let me just make sure I understand.. Were you just pulling his front lip up and then clicking and treating? And he eventually picked it up that way? The people I've spoken to so far seem to think that pulling their lips up wouldn't teach them how to smile.. But if you've done it, then I'm going to keep going ahead and trying :) The only issue so far is that Lego gets really tired of me pulling at her lips after a few times, and just tries to paw me away or turn her head away.. So I usually have to end that after a few tries.

    I sort of put the play dead command off for now, because I'm so excited to try and work on the capturing tricks.. Such as teaching her to "pucker up".. But they're proving to be a biiit harder. I often wonder if she understands what I'm clicking for?

    I also found out that one of the women my boss works with is really into advanced trick training with her pittie, so I might send her off an email today and see if she'd be into giving me some new trick ideas, or have any pointers on how to improve on Lego's current tricks :)
    MaryK and Dogster like this.
  6. Mutt Experienced Member

    Well like I said, the intention was to teach her to allow me to show her teeth, but as a response she already pulled up her front lip if I was making clear that I was going to do it myself to show her teeth. I don't know if Lego will do it, Boef offered it by herself. So if I'm going to teach her smile (which I intent to do some day) I would go with that and so yes click+treat whenever she offers it (as a reaction to me). A little note: boef only started to do this when she was very familiar with the teeth showing and we had done the exercise multiple times.

    The key is to keep this exercise very short (2/3 times is more than enough), since it's not that much 'fun' for a dog to get his lips pulled. It doesn't always have to be a traing exercise, if she is just lying relaxed you can just gently pull up her lips once and reward by petting her and go on with you were doing. So that becomes something which isn't a big deal.

    Pucker up sounds interesting, what does it stand for?

    How nice that you're getting in contact whith another trick/pittie trainer!
    MaryK and Dogster like this.
  7. luckylego Experienced Member

    Pucker up is my newest idea.. It's teaching her to purse/pucker her lips at the front, like she's going in for a kiss. Sort of my variation on "give me a kiss" I suppose. I started by baiting her into talking at me, specifically looking for her "woo wooo" noise as that's when she purses her lips, and the second she pursed I would click and treat before sound came out. Today was only her first real lesson, but she's actually picking it up pretty quick! It was sort of my boss's idea.. That was her suggestion for how to teach Lego to smile. Click her when she scrunches her lips to talk, then once she has that down, stop clicking for the pursed lips and make her try something new until you get closer and closer to a smile.. But so far I'm choosing just to keep her at a pucker until she's really solid at it, so that I don't confuse her :)

    Another one - which I mentioned in a different thread, that I'd REALLY love to teach her, but aren't sure if its even possible, is how to make her "stroke victim face" on cue. I call it that because when she's itchy on the side where she's missing her back leg and can't scratch, her whole left side of her face contorts and freezes into this stretched look, while the other half stays normal, and she tries to scratch herself (I always drop everything to run over saying "I'll be your leg!!" when this happens :p). I think that one would be really cool to capture and get on cue.. But do you think its even possible? Or is it something that's totally involuntary? I can induce it pretty easily by scratching or tickling her chest/shoulder/behind her ear.. So capturing it shouldnt be hard, it's just a matter of whether or not it will stick. What do you guys think??

    So basically you got him used to the handling enough that he just offered it in anticipation.. Like a dog putting himself into his harness? That might just work! My problem is that I always get so excited at her progress, I want to keep training! So because of that I always have to make a mental note to be sure that my sessions aren't ending up being too long.. So I'll try to keep it down to just a couple times so she doesn't get too annoyed with me next time :oops:

    I was about to ask if anyone had any other trick suggestions.. But I have a feeling these couple will fill my plate for a whiiile haha!
    Anneke, MaryK, 648117 and 1 other person like this.

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