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Tricks mania

I haven’t written in a long time and I think it is time to write about what Krypto and I have been up lately. While we have been training in agility at a slower pace than last year, we have started this new fun trend of learning tricks. They are mainly tricks inspired by baby’s toys, and they are providing us with hours of entertainment and they are treating Krypto coordination, patience, frustration management and so on.

In thinking about the tricks we have been working on based on those baby’s toys, I realized the tricks have something in common. They are all similar in that the dog has to put an object inside another object. However, they are also very different.

Stackable rings

This is the first baby toy I bought for Krypto. I did it because on youtube there are several videos of dogs performing the trick, thus it seemed feasible. However, unlike most of the stackable ring toys snugly on the peg and keeps the whole toy together:

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Surprisingly, teaching Krypto to perform this trick was quite easy, of course apart from the tough bit of placing the bear head on the peg. This is, in short, how I taught the trick:

1) retrieve the rings and hold them in the mouth (usually when Krypto retrieves he just drops the retrieved object in my hand, without holding it);

2) click and treat for dropping the rings and touching the peg while I hold the peg

3) click and treat only when the ring gets insert into the peg that I am holding (I did help the first couple of times to give him a hint)

4) move the peg on the floor, but prevent it from swinging (it has a swinging base) by attaching it to the floor with duct tape;

5) remove the duct tape so that the peg swivels

The above steps 1-5 were done only with the task of stacking the rings. Once that was perfected, I introduced the bear head. Krypto did not want to pick it up because of the material it is made of. A few treats convinced him it was worth it! However inserting it on the peg is a work of precision and that caused a lot of frustration as Krypto was missing 15-20 times before getting a hit. Right now he still misses a lot, and we need to perfect this part of the trick. I am also trying to teach him that the 4 rings are different. I am hoping he will grasp their difference in size and learn to pick them up in the proper order, but I am perhaps hoping too much!

Basketball

I then decided we absolutely had to play basketball and I bought Krypto and Pongo a second hand toddler toy to teach them the basics of basketball playing.

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Here I first taught Krypto and Pongo to put their snout in the basket. Then to bring the ball to the basket and drop it there. I think that a dog that knows how to pick up his toys and put them in a toy box/basket would have no problems in learning this trick very quickly. It took Krypto two sessions, thus about 5 minutes, to learn the trick, and to Pongo about 15 minutes total.

Shape Sorter

This is a very challenging trick. The toy I was given by my friend Nathaly has a lid with 5 holes and 5 shapes to fit in the holes: round, square, triangle, cross and star. It is the Brilliant Basics™ Baby’s First Blocks by Fisher Price. I decided to tackle this trick by teaching Krypto first to recognize one shape out of the five, in the lid. I chose the circle because it is the easies shape, and clicked and treated him when he put his muzzle in the correct hole in the lid. The next step will be to teach him to pick up the shapes the proper way so that they can be inserted in the lid holes. And then he will learn to insert the shape in the hole. I may even follow the suggestion of a children;s developmental therapist and cover 3 of the 5 holes to simplify the sorting process during the first learning stages. I may even cover all the holes but the correct one. I am still thinning about it.

Coin in a piggy bank

This trick was inspired by Emily Larlham of dogmantics. She is an amazing trainer and on her website she has a list of videos where she shows how to teach many tricks. The first challenge was to teach Krypto to pick a coin up. We need a carpet on the ceramic floor or he will not. But apart from that there were no issues, and he never tried to swallow the coin. I am now teaching him to approach the piggy bank narrow hole with his muzzle. A work in progress.

Krypto’s tricks of 2012

Here you can see Krypto playing basketball, stacking rings, and learning how to handstand (still working on this one):

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Categories: Dog training, Varia
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