Saturday, 30 April 2011

Pet Classic Skills: Shake

Posted by Blog Administrator at 23:23
A lot of dogs naturally offer a paw to shake, making it a very easy trick for them to learn. For other dogs, it
is more difficult. Of my three dogs, two understood shake almost immediately, while the other didn’t get it at first. Start by sitting on the floor with your dog sitting and facing you. If your dog gets pushy or silly when you get down on the floor, or thinks it’s time to wrestle, sit on a chair or stool.
 
Have your clicker ready and treats nearby. First, hold your hand out where your dog could easily put her paw in it, and wait. Always hold your hand with your palm facing up. Many dogs immediately start trying to figure out what you want, eagerly playing the game.  

 
Your dog may touch your hand with her nose, bark, or even get up and circle you. She will probably run through every behavior she already knows to see if one of them is what you want. Just ignore all this and wait her out.
 
Even if it takes a while, it doesn’t mean your dog isn’t smart. She’s just thinking and working things out for herself. With any luck, she will eventually paw at your hand. As soon as your dog’s paw touches your hand, click and treat. As always, you can verbally praise her, too. (You can wait until later to add your cue word.) Then start again. To make the process go quicker, feel free to hold a treat in your closed fist so your dog will try to get it out. Just be sure to wait until she uses her paw, and don’t let her get the treat for licking.
 
If you have been waiting a long time and your dog is beginning to look frustrated, make it easier. If you haven’t been holding food in your hand, do so now. If she is still having trouble, place your hand on the floor close to her paw, or even tap the floor like you’re playing.
 
This may encourage her to hit your hand with her paw. As soon as there is any contact between paw and hand, click and treat. Be sure she is touching your hand consistently before you move on and make it harder.
 
As she gets more confident, you can gradually raise your hand up off the ground. With the treat-in-hand method, you will need to gradually wean your dog off the food in your hand. Never reward her with the treat that’s in your hand—always feed her from your pocket or a treat bag. This lowers the value of the treat in your hand in your dog’s eyes, and will make it easier to stop giving her the hint.
 
Remember, always hold your hand with your palm facing up, even when you are making a fist. Once your dog is consistently touching your hand, try holding out your hand without a treat. Your hand should smell like treats. As soon as her paw touches your hand, click and give her a treat from your stash. If she doesn’t touch your palm when there is no treat in your hand, go back a step.
 
Try holding a small treat under your thumb, with your other fingers outstretched. Be sure not to give her the treat under your thumb! After a few repetitions, you can try again without a treat.
 
When you click or praise your dog, you are telling her that whatever she just did is good. By repeatedly rewarding the same behavior, you reinforce the idea that the behavior is something you want your dog to do.
 
In her mind, she is thinking, “Okay, so when I hit his hand with my paw, I got a treat. Let’s try it again!” A dog is more likely to repeat a behavior that has gotten her positive results than one that has been ignored—just as you are more likely to study hard for a test when you know it will get you a good grade.
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