Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Hold It

Sometimes, dogs can really surprise you.

I was thinking that I really should work on mouthing dumbbells. Wyatt tends to mouth dumbbells and gloves, especially the leather and metal dumbbells and the gloves. I tried what my teacher recommended in class, which is to gently hold his mouth shut saying hold. As soon as I try and manipulate Wyatt's muzzle, he backs up and starts to bark at me. This gradually deteriorates into me chasing after him trying to get him to take the dumbbell.

So I tried it tonight after a long break from working on mouthing with the same results.

Occasionally an idea comes penetrates through the fog of past experience, all the books I have read, and all the advice I have been given.

I have a 1 finger signal which mean stay or don't move. So I thought I would try and shape a hold by clicking him when he does not mouth. Well, I combined that with the click for the hold and he seemed to really get it! He started to hold the dumbbell perfectly still and waited for me to take it.

This is not the first time that I have neglected to use a command he already knows in a new context to get what I am looking for.

The last time it was trying to get a sit in front with the dumbbell. I kept trying a sit command and he would drop the dumbbell. Well, one day I thought to use the front command which means to come straight in front of me and sit. Sure enough, that was the ticket.

Don't forget to use the commands your dog already knows in a new context!


Alice said...

Hi John,
I am working on the hold it also with Sam, who mouths the dumbell alot. Someone I work with occasionally, suggested having him hold the dumbell while heeling. Then he is too busy thinking about heeling to worry too much about the dumbell. It's coming along slowly, but it is improving. I will try to come up with a don't move command to see how that works for us. Thanks,
-- Alice

John Heffernan said...

Yes, that is a good technique too. Good luck with Sam's mouthing and let us know how it goes...