a blog about Kilt and her kids plus Trouble our JRT mascot.

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Sequim, Washington, United States

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mimicry can be a great tool...

...for training as long as it's a behavior you WANT your dog to learn.  I use mimicry all of the time in my training of my dogs.  Since Champ's mom is notorious for being snarky around strange dogs, Jet was used to walk with Champ at the malls and parks, etc.  Trouble and Xena are great with people and dogs, too, so they were also on Champ's list of dog family to go with to meet and greet.

My friend Michele with Champ, Jet, and her sheltie.

Champ loves to fetch.  He brings the articles back to me and will place them in my hand, but he didn't know what "hold" meant.  I taught this in less than 24 hours with maybe, five 5 minute sessions.  So, it took less than 30 min. to teach him 'hold.' 
When I used to teach classes at the house, I would tell my students, "To have a well trained dog, all you have to do is work with your dog during the commercials."  Quick, short training sessions reap the most rewards.

I like all of my dogs to fetch and hold articles.  It's just a useful behavior to have whether or not you are going to use it in the obedience ring or not.  Border Collies love to have a job, so carrying stuff for you brings them great joy.

When Jet performed in New York on the David Letterman show he carried his lunch bag everywhere.  New York City was stressful for Jet, because basically he is a very soft, shy dog.  Carrying that lunch bag gave him a job and took the stress off of him.  People would stop and smile at the little dog carrying his lunch bag in out of busy New York traffic..  Jet fed off all of their positive energy and it made him feel more at ease.

Back to Champ learning the hold.  Day one, I brought in Trouble.  Trouble would do a handstand on one of her little T-rex legs if I asked her to do it.  She is an amazing little JRT.  I set up two chairs across from each other and asked Trouble to take the dumbbell.  Champ watched intently.  When I said, "Give." she gave it and got treated.  I asked Champ to take it.  He would just "bump" the dumbbell. He got a small treat for that. :0)  I did this about 5-6 times back and forth.

Trouble smiling and thinking....."Boy, Champ, what a dummy.  This is like taking candy from a baby.  Hold the dumbbell, get a piece of cheese.  We ALL do it.  It's a no-brainer."

Later in the day during "commercial time" I brought in Jet.  I did the same thin with Jet while Champ watched.  A little later, I brought in Kilt.  I would put the dumbbell almost at Champ's mouth.  If he didn't take in in his mouth, his pushy mother would reach over and grab it first.  Bink...Kilt got the treat.  Now he was catching on :0)  Mom is getting the goodie if I just sit her and play like I'm ignorant.  He was already figuring out that this was not in his best interest.

Most of my dogs will ALL will walk themselves carrying their own leash.  This is especially handy if you have your arms full of stuff.

This morning I brought Yoko in with Champ.  I put the 2 chairs together just for some variety.  Champ was a bit interested in Jet whining outdoors.  They ALL know when I am working with another dog and they want to be THE dog to be working.  I think I offered the dumbbell twice to Yoko.  Of course she took it with enthusiasm and with SMUGNESS written all over her marshmallow face.
Look at the SMILE on Yoko's face.  I know what she is thinking. "Look, he's an idiot.  More treats for me."

I offered it to Champ..Bink, he took it and looked me in the eye.  I just softly tapped under his chin and stroked the top of his nose while saying 'hold' very softly.  That's all it took.  Next time I offered it, he took it, even looked out the window for the other dogs without dropping it.  He figured it out, really, just by watching the other dogs and a bit of encouragement from me.  Yea Champster.

Yoko says, "Bummer.  He figured it out."

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