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Sunday, May 3, 2020

Black Dog Sunday - Teaching a Blind Dog a New Trick

I've taught our Black Dog a lot of tricks over the years, many of them using a clicker and treats. This is one that he loves.

Balance the treat on your nose until I say the word.

As soon as I say it's okay, launch the treat.

Then, the part that is hard for a blind dog - catching the treat.
Even though he almost never catches the treat anymore, he loves this game.

I decided to use our training skills to teach him to scratch the board that will file his nails. The board is a piece of plywood. It has grip tape stuck to it. This tape is usually used to give people traction on stairs.

Because he can't see, I needed to let him know that a new object was in front of him. I tapped it so he'd hear it. Then, because he has lots of experience with "shaping" (where I click/treat any behavior that is getting closer to what I want) - he immediately started sniffing the board, knowing that he'd need to interact with it. I rewarded that a few times, and then I waited for him to put a paw on it. You'll see that he did that pretty fast.

Then, we stalled because the board wasn't stable enough for him. I cut out some video until I put the board flat on the ground. When I switched it to being flat on the ground, R tried standing on it with his front paws. I decided to wait to see if he'd try a digging motion. Because we've done a lot of shaping in his life, he didn't give up when standing on the board didn't earn a click/treat. He got a little agitated but, voila, he tried to dig on the board pretty fast!

Here's the video.


  1. Hari Om
    Darling R - fun is your other name! Hugs and wags, YAM-aunty xxx

  2. Lovely seeing you and R working together - it's clear there's a strong bond between you.

  3. You are so smart, R! We just love you♥

  4. BLK Dog Looks So Healthy In That Video - Well Done Humans - Cracked Me Up How His Tail Was In Motion While Learning The New Task - Once He Perform The Trick, Totally Focused, All Ears From That Point On - Such A Happy Boy - Brilliantly Captured Old Trick Photos - Seriously, I Cant Thank You Enough - You Have Inspired Me To Consider Possibly THINKING About A Canine Again - Maybe Thats The Lockdown Talking But Your Tribe Is So Damn Happy - Keep Those Expressive Photos Coming - Stay Strong - And Thanx For Being You - Big Hugs

    P.S. One Just Because Treat From Uncle T For All Three Pups

  5. R looks so good and healthy. It was so great to see him in a video and get a better feeling for who he is and how he's doing. After all he's been through, he looks really good, full of life, and so smart and eager to learn. So happy when he understood what you wanted from him. A video full of love and care.

  6. We knew R would figure it out eventually. He is such a smart dog and has such a great teacher.

  7. So quick to figure it out! Every bit of training you've ever done continues to pay off, doesn't it? Inspiring :)

  8. What do you do for the back nails though? And where do you find the stuff you put on the board-or what is it actually called?

    1. We can't do the back nails yet. I will try to train the pups to scratch with their hind paws but I think that it will be hard. Most dogs (mine) don't mind their hind paw nails being clipped as much as the front so it's okay if I do have to clip those. -- The tape was simply called traction tape - and we found it in Home Depot. Amazon appeared to have some too. The pups do scratch off some of the roughness so I predict that we'll need to replace the tape periodically. The best part is that the dogs really like doing it. (There are lots of instructions and youtube vids out there if you google this).

  9. Oh R, you're such a smart and handsome dude!

  10. are so very very very smart and this is proof positive one's senses become sharper when one is lost.
    BTW you have beautiful pearly white teeth.
    KB you are R nearly operate as one. I smiled a lot at the video and Shyla looking on.
    Hugs cecilia

  11. So wondeerful to see the mighty black dog looking so healthy after the recent cancer scare. He is one smart dog.

  12. A great invention, he did so well to scratch, I have used your strategy to trim/cut Moxy's claws. We played with the special cat claw clippers, a lot of times,. then I held his paw, lots of times, then stroked the clippers near the claw, lots and lots, finally just held him the other day and did all one front foot!!! I think he might have had a close clip sometime and was quite scared of even his paw being held closely. The runner could well patent this innovation for every dog. I'll wait and see. Very black sky and raining again this morning, Monday down here already.

  13. can teach an old dog new tricks! Love Shyla snoopervising the whole thing.

  14. Great job, R! He reminded me so much of Luke when he got frustrated there. "What do you want??" they are thinking and then all of the sudden they start trying stuff and they end up getting it! ♥
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

  15. That is just wonderful!!! He catches on so quickly and he wants so much to figure out what you want him to do. He is very eager to please you:)

  16. Thank you for the explanation and the video. R is so smart. I'm going to have to try that.

  17. Nothing wrong with R's smart brain! So fun to see him figure it out!

    BTW - he looks really good, KB. What a change for the better.

    Chris from Boise


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