Target and Trickery
Hi and welcome back, how did the recall training go last week?
We thought maybe it’s time to have some fun with your dogs and practice some more targeting. The act of targeting a dog to something in particular is a very useful one. At this point your dog should already be targeted to touch your hand, so let’s target him to something else altogether.
Decide your Target
The first thing to do is decide what tricks and smart acts that you would like to teach your dog. This then will decide what you target him to.
· A disk or sticky note is a good idea if you want to teach your dog to push open doors, ring bells and push things with his nose or paw.
· A target stick is a great idea if you want to teach your dog to walk on his back legs, twirl through your legs and carry out an array of impressive dance moves.
It is important to only target your dog to one thing at a time or he will become confused. You can always go back a few weeks later and teach the other one.
A Target Disk
The target disk can be the lid of a jar, a piece if sticky colored paper or a plastic bottle top. It can be anything at all the most important thing is that it is used only for targeting and put away after training.
Targeting your dog to the disk is easy, just a few simple steps. The steps should take place over a few sessions of training. Remember everything we have covered so far on how your dog learns. So let’s give it a go;
1. Put the disk on the floor and put a treat on it then as your dog touches the disk with his nose click and give him another treat. Practice this a lot.
2. Pretend to put a treat onto the disk and still click and treat your dog as he touches the disk. Practice.
3. Move the treat devoid disk around and click then treat every time your dog touches it with his nose.
4. When your dog touches the disk every time he sees it then simply move it to more complicated places and click, reward every time the dog goes and touches it with his nose. This step should take a few sessions, move the disk to every area you can think of.
5. After the dog is solidly targeted to touch the disk you can start to attach the disk to anything that you would like the dog to nudge. Then eventually after he has learned to nudge specific things you can add the command word for the specific area and remove the disk.
This type of targeting can be used to teach many tricks including closing the door, ringing the bell and nudging you with his nose.
It can also be varied by taking the touch one step further and teaching the dog to pick things up in his mouth, this is best done as a process of shaping and simply, after solid targeting, starting to withhold the click until the dog picks a targeted item up. You can then add a name to the item and target your dog to all sorts of things.
The Target Stick
A target stick is slightly different in the final result but taught in exactly the same way. Choose a walking stick, long umbrella or even a specific target stick, they are only a few dollars from a pet store or online. The dog specific target stick has a small round of rubber on the end that the dog learns to touch with his nose.
1. Put the stick on the floor and put a treat on it then as your dog touches it with his nose click and give him another treat. Practice this a lot.
2. Pretend to put a treat onto the end of the stick and still click and treat your dog as he touches the stick. Practice.
3. Move the treat devoid stick around on the floor and click then treat every time your dog touches it with his nose.
4. When your dog touches the stick every time he sees it then simply move it to more complicated places and click, reward every time the dog goes and touches it with his nose. This step should take a few sessions, move the stick up into the air, to every area you can think of, for the dog to touch with his nose.
5. After the dog is solidly targeted to touch the stick you can start to really move it around, you can wave it through the air and watch your dog try to touch it with his nose.
This type of targeting can be used to guide your dog through weave poles, to weave through your legs, to twist and spin, crawl on the ground and even walk on his back legs. (Be careful of too much agility if your dog has possible joint problems)
This week I would like you to decide on one of the two targeting types, either a disk or a stick, then I would like you to teach your dog at least one trick in the following order;
Target your dog to your chosen area by using clicker training (this can be done over three days in short 10 minute sessions)
When your dog is completely certain of the target, us it to teach him one trick. Then let us know the trick you have taught – even better – why not send us some pictures of your dog doing his or her new trick?
Wednesday 27th May 2015