Playing Dead with believability

Discussion in 'Off-Topic & Chit Chat' started by bmr44, Sep 18, 2008.

  1. bmr44 New Member

    My border collie "plays dead" very well, but generally her eyes are open and sometimes her tail wags. She has been offered a role in a locally-produced movie, but in her scene she must die and then lay dead for few moments. How do I teach her to close her eyes and appear to be truly lifeless? Any advice is appreciated.

  2. Jean Cote Administrator

    That is an interesting question. I would probably tackle the moving tail problem before trying to get her to close her eyes. How have you trained her to play dead? If you have used reinforcements, then perhaps you could go back to training and reinforce only when her tail is not moving.
  3. bmr44 New Member

    I originally trained my BC to be a "dead dog" on command with a luring technique, rewarding with treats, but this was probably 4 or 5 years ago. She is 6 now. Is it unfair or confusing to change what is expected for "dead dog"? Should I use a different command entirely since the behavior that I want to now slightly different?

    I like the idea of focusing on the lack of tail movement first. Training such a complicated trick needs to happen in steps. Thanks!
  4. Jean Cote Administrator

    I was thinking, and perhaps as a quick fix you could simply lower your tone of voice one your dog is in position. My border collie is really submissive and I have to watch my tone of voice, so perhaps this could get her to stop moving her tail, at least, for the shooting. :dogsmile:

    I'm not sure if you'll ever be able to train her to close her eyes. But you can always get the camera man to shoot in a direction where they don't see directly into her eyes. And besides, a dead dog probably does have eyes open.
  5. stormi Well-Known Member

    If you dont look at her does she stop wagging her tail? My Storm is less likely to wag her tail when she is in the 'flat' if I dont look at her.

    I agree with Jean about rewarding her for keeping her tail still. I'd put a command to a still tail too...to remind her if you need to. Sometimes stroking the dog the full length of it's side helps it relax...as you go over the tail (so it is still) say 'Good Tail'...should help. Stopping tails going is really hard...especially when we try so hard to keep our dogs happy :dogbiggrin:
  6. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Good ideas, guys. You could use something like, "Happy tail!" and "Still tail" or "Wag" and "Still" to differentiate the not quite dead dog, and the completely dead dog. Lol. Good luck to you!

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