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Friday, January 4, 2013

Our training resolution

We were out for a cold sunrise this morning, and Shyla was willing to wear my hat for fun! She's really learning to trust me. A few months ago, placing a hat on her head would have freaked her out. Today, she seemed happy!
Lots of people have written about their resolutions for 2013, including all sorts of fun exercise and dog-walking programs. I've decided to try a completely different kind of program, focusing on dog training.

As I've written, Shyla and I have been taking multiple excursions to town each week for socialization and training. She's come a long way... but that form of training is hard work for her and for me. During these excursions, I am exposing Shyla to things that used to scare the heck out of her (like parking lots, new people, city noises, etc.), and I have to proceed very carefully to make sure that I don't stress her out. Needless to say, although I love seeing the incredible progress that Shyla is making, both she and I are exhausted when we get home!

So, as an antidote to that difficult socialization training that we will continue as long as it's needed, I thought that trying to teach Shyla one new trick/behavior every two weeks or so would be a good program for us. We can do the training at home, and it would be nothing but fun. We'll do some serious behaviors, like heeling off-leash (which we've just started), and we'll do some frivolous ones like taking a bow.

Before Shyla's leg fracture flared up, I had started to teach her to take a bow but then I stopped because I was afraid that it might hurt her leg. In the past week, we've started again, and Shyla demonstrated at sunrise this morning. The tongue flick was Shyla's idea!
We're also going to gradually work on strengthening her stay. Today, I practiced having Shyla remain in a sit-stay without swiveling her rump when I walked behind her.
Then, I used a trick that I taught her when she first joined our family to get her to whirl and sprint. I walk a certain distance away, and I hold my arm straight up in the air in a spot where I'm going to leave a few treats on the ground. Then, I walk away from the spot so that Shyla has to find the treats herself. When I said "find it", Shyla whirled around from her sit-stay and sprinted to search for the treats. She LOVES this game.
I'm planning to teach her a variety of tricks using positive methods, including a clicker and treats. I'm not opposed to luring a behavior to initially teach it. A few things on our list are a "high five", belly crawling, spinning, rolling over, and covering her eyes with her paws. I hope to be able to show you a new trick every couple of weeks.

Has anyone else taught their dog to cover his/her eyes with both paws? I don't know how to teach it, and I'm wondering if anyone has any experience or suggestions. It seems like it would be very cute!

I'm also eager for suggestions about other tricks that I might teach Shyla. Thanks!


  1. Great resolutions! I'm fascinated when I read about how far you've progressed with Miss Shyla.

    Clicker training is awesome. It's all I use with Nola. Do you mostly luring, capturing or free shaping? I use luring and free shaping most.

    Nola knows high five (as high as her little leg can reach, LOL!), spin and roll over too!

    What about teaching back up, shut a door, weave between your legs, target an object from a distance, sit pretty, wipe your paws, balance a treat on her nose?

    How did/are you teaching Shyla bow? It's one I've wanted to teach Nola for some time.

    I don't know if you like tutorials for training, but Tab289 on YouTube has a great one for teaching covering the eyes. Here's the link:
    Nola's Mom

  2. Oh I love love the hat!! And what a great way to start the year with those kinds of resolutions.

  3. Shyla is so smart! We play hide-n- go seek in the house! Have you tried that?
    Another trick is teaching them to tell time! It seems to come very easy- especially when it is time to eat!

  4. You guys embarrass me with your teaching expertise. I just do such very simple things with Stella, and I think she would love to learn more.

    I am going to check out the video and see if she could learn to cover her eyes.

    Cheers and thanks for sharing what you do.

    Jo, Stella and Zkhat

  5. At 14 weeks my Miss Addie know come, sit, down, and shake. She's learning quick and we start our first puppy class together next week! I can not wait!

  6. Ann.....from....Outer Banks of NC.....said.....Just adorable is Sweet Shyla....Sounds like.... lots of fun and training ahead for Shyla and you.......I know you both will make every day count.....with lots of love in your hearts.......Every day is thanks and to shine in all directions for the world needs your light..everyone will agree....for all of you are an inspiration ...Happy 2013 for you KB, Shyla, R, and the Runner..HUGS

  7. Shyla looks so cute in the hat. I love the idea of teaching tricks and hope to do some with Millie too. Good luck.


  8. So happy to see Shyla is recovering so well from her old fracture. How is R doing? He looks well. Are his blood values back to normal now?

    Jed's leg has take a turn for the worse. Back to the vet next week. Not an auspicious start to the new year for us.

    Sounds like you have a terrific program in mind for Shyla, alternating her de-sensitization with fun tricks. Maybe she'd enjoy some canine freestyle, too?

  9. I can't wait to see Shyla's trick repertoire. I've heard of using a little roll of clear tape to teach the paw over the eyes trick, but I've never tried it myself. A friend of ours had a therapy dog who was ridiculously smart and she taught her to "wag left" and "wag right" along with "stop" in the middle. It was a riot to watch. She'd also get a tissue out of a box if you said "Ah choo."

  10. A good list of resolutions you got there, KB. We'd love to learn the cover our eyes with our paws trick. Hope you can help us with it, too.

    Enjoy the weekend, Shyla and R!

    Piappies - Fudgie, Princess, Frappie, Mocha, Sugar, Wai-Max, Wai-Pai & Forgie

  11. Shyla is very lucky to have you for a mom!! You do SO many fun things with her!! YouTube would probably be a good place to search for dog tricks...there are thousands of them out there! Clicker Training is fun and my girlz enjoy pretty much ANY game!! Chloe mostly...LadyBug wasn't exposed to much before I adopted her.

  12. We understand about the hat. It took mom time to get Molly to accept stuff being put on her head too.
    We can't wait to see all the new tricks you learn, Shyla!
    Our mom googles stuff on You Tube all the time. There is great information on that site.

    Love ya lots,
    Mitch and Molly

  13. Have you thought of teaching her to turn light switches on/off? You can do it by targeting; Shyla is clearly bright enough to catch on in record time! I look forward to whatever you teach her; you're making her life as full and rich as any pup could ask for, I hope you realize.

  14. Saw your comment over at Tales and Tails and just had to wish you luck on your ambitious training goals. Even if you don't get every trick down, you'll have lots of fun.

    BTW, my Honey loves nosework (find it) as much as Shyla.

    If you want to brag on your month, I'll be hosting a blog hop at the end of the month as part of my second annual Train Your Dog Month Challenge. You can check it out here:

    I'd love to see how your month goes.

  15. You are an excellent teacher. I'm seriously thinking about sending our 3 new girls in your direction.

  16. I've only done the one paw eye cover/nose brush--ie be shy. My list of tricks are:
    Be shy
    Dead Dog
    Don't Move! (this means freeze in whatever position you are in and stay frozen while Mommy walks around you over you whatever--it is very useful, especially in the kitchen)
    Get Out! (this means RUN through the nearest doorway and wait on the other side--again, great in the kitchen)
    Go to Bed
    Head Down
    High Five
    Hit Your Mark (Mommy has a paper X she can toss anywhere and I will run to it and put my foot on it)
    Left from Right (very useful when retrieving as Mommy can tell me where to turn if I've lost sight of the item. Also I will lift the correct hind or front foot for her or the vet)
    Paws Up (put your front paws on a table or whatever while the back paws stay on the ground)
    Roll Over
    Shake Hands
    Sit Up
    Table Up
    Turn Around
    Turn Around the Other Way
    Where is Your Tail (ie Wag your tail)
    Plus I paint and I can read four words, "Sit" "Down" "Stand" and "Up" (meaning sit up)
    I love learning tricks!

  17. What fun it is to watch Shyla's progress. Our Goldens naturally cover their eyes when they roll on their backs to stretch and I agree it is awfully cute. So when they did it we said, "good girl, cover your eyes." Then gave a treat. I wouldn't have a clue how to train that if the dog didn't already to it but I'm sure you will find a way.

  18. Shyla is learning great...think you can do it your way to learn her a lot of tricks....
    Great pics...

  19. Love the hat! Good work on the socialization. I did that with Hiker when she first arrived. I still remember her flattening herself in the middle of the road while we were crossing because she heard a vehicle. Now, she is just about bomb proof!


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