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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Wow! How does she do that?!

This is a post to accompany the release of Treasure's Novice Trick Dog (NTD) title video.  Treasure completed 16 new tricks from the list of novice tricks provided.  I had to choose tricks which I felt Treasure would be able to do.  Some of them had to be modified slightly to assist her with her special abilities.  Here are the tricks we show on the video:
  1. Come when called:  I taught Treasure to follow my breath when I blow towards her gently.  Indoors this is rather easy unless the heat or air conditioning has just kicked on and I am near a vent which blows the air currents (and my breath) all around while I'm calling her.  Outdoors this can be trickier with various breezes also blowing my breath off course.  But we enjoy practicing and playing hide and seek outdoors.
  2. Lie down:  When I tap her front foot several times, Treasure knows I want her to lie down.
  3. Sit:  When I keep my hand on her rump for a duration, she will sit.  Sit started out to be a difficult position for her since she had some back issues when I adopted her.  Now she sits easily, but will often pause to process the touch cue before sitting. 
  4. Spin:  Treasure can spin in both directions.  This was actually important therapy for loosening up the muscles in her back.  She will spin a circle in the direction of the hip I tap.
  5. Stay:  Treasure does a nice down stay and a paws up on an item and stay.  Stay was a tricky one to teach her, as she really wanted to go with me and keep tabs on where I was ... especially since during training, I often have treats nearby! 
  6. Loose leash walking:  I can walk Treasure on a loose leash and she will usually try to follow behind me so she can keep track of me.  I can also walk her on a solid leash for heeling and to keep her next to me more formally. I taught her leash cues which allow me to communicate to her when I start, stop and turn with minimal pressure on the solid leash.
  7. Roll out a carpet:  Treasure can roll out a carpet mat.  I started this trick by placing food every few inches inside the rolled up mat so she could find them easily without pushing very much.  Now she will unroll the entire mat for a reward only at the very end from inside the mat.
  8. Shake paw:  When I tap the back of her front leg, she will lift it for me to grab it and shake it.  She cannot see to put her own paw into my hand, but she lifts it and waits for me to take it.
  9. Balance beam:  Treasure can walk on a balance beam placed only a few inches above the ground.  I'm sure she could do it higher up, but there is really no need.  She doesn't know how high up she is and if she does misstep, there is no reason to put her in danger.  She can do it off leash, but she has more confidence when she can feel me through the leash and she goes faster and straighter. 
  10. Find hidden treats:  This was already a favorite game of Treasure's!  For the video, I used boxes because of the limited range of the camera on the tripod, but she can find treats hidden anywhere - up on shelves, under the couch, etc.
  11. Paws up on an object:  Treasure really likes to do this one.  She will put her paws upon boxes, upside down bowls and containers, my legs, on a yoga ball, etc.  My cue is swiping my open hand from her chest up to her chin.  Tapping the object sometimes helps her to locate it, but not always.
  12. Which hand has the treats:  Another finding treats game!  This time I hold both hands out as fists.  Only one fist has the treats and she has to smell both hands to find which one has the treats.
  13. Crawl:  Treasure can crawl fairly quickly for a longer distance if I have a food lure in my hand held in front of her.  She knows not to stand up until I release her, so will stay down and crawl towards my hand.  Without the lure, she will crawl, but slower and only a few creeps at a time with a pause for more direction from me.  My cue is swiping my fingers off her front toes and tapping the ground ahead of her.  She also can crawl under items like the stuffed dog in the video or under my bent legs.
  14. Going through a hoop:  I am very impressed with Treasure for learning this one.  She goes through the hoop on the floor.  I added streamers to the hoop so she could tell the inside of the hoop from the outside by feel.  She will often poke her nose into the streamers, then into the air around the outside of the hoop to define for herself where the hoop is before coming through.  She will also follow my hand through the hoop with a follow me cue which is a swipe forward under her chin. 
  15. Muffin tin game:  This is a fun one.  Put treats into a muffin tin and then cover the treats with tennis balls and other toys.  Treasure has to find the treats and then figure out how to remove the toys so she can get to the treats.
  16. Doggie pushups:  This combines two cues together - sit and down.  It took some practice to get Treasure to pop up into a sit from the down position.  I used the same sit cue but added a light tap and she seemed to get the idea.  I still reward in between each position change because I don't want her learning to pop back and forth between them just because she wants a treat.  That could ruin my sit and down for other activities like rally.
See the trick video here!


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