Thursday, April 22, 2010

Lessons in dog training: Shake it like a Polaroid picture

When we got Miyagi, we first focused on building him a great foundation. The idea with training is when a dog masters something, you can often use that skill to help him master something else. A good training foundation includes not only "sit" and "stay," but also "down" and "leave it." With these basic commands you can gain control over your dog. For example, telling a barking dog to lie down will often snap him out of his new obsession and often get him to stop barking. "Leave it" is a super important tool if your dog is anything like Miyagi and likes to grab pretty much anything he can get his mouth on.
Now that Miyagi has relatively mastered these basic concepts, he's ready to move to more fun, creative tricks. Like shaking. This was no easy task since there's no natural inclination to lift a paw in dogs, but LOTS of repetition eventually led to this:

It definitely fills me with pride and excitement to see Miyagi mastering such concepts. It's also pretty funny. Now that his repertoire is growing, you can almost see on his face how he's trying to remember what he's supposed to do. Then there's the aha moment and he lifts his paw into your outstretched hand. Maybe I can get him to honor his namesake by doing "Wax on, wax off." What do you think?

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