The first half of 2013 went pretty well with dog training. Then I got lazy in the summer. Sure, Maya and Pierson earned lots of treats by doing dog tricks, but they didn’t learn anything new. I only reinforced tricks they already knew. So one of my resolutions for 2014 is to teach Maya and Pierson more dog tricks.
I started this resolution out right on January 3rd when I taught Maya a new trick. I call it “all the way”, which means put your head down all the way to the floor. Maya figured out what I was trying to get her to do in the very first 3 minute session! Pierson was much too excited about the treats to get it the first time around. But by the third training session, which was on the 4th, he got it! Since our training sessions are short, it took Maya less than 3 minutes to learn and Pierson less than 9 minutes.
Teaching the trick was very simple. I put them in the down position, and then led their noses down to the floor and out. I put both the “stay” command and the “all the way” command together. Sounds simple, right? It was for me. But I have a really good training relationship with my dogs. We understand each other well. Maya and Pierson are good at figuring out what I want them to do, and I understand their limitations and try to work with them accordingly.
I think dog training works a lot better when you train together regularly, even if it is with stuff the dogs already know. Maya and Pierson get treats almost every day. And they know they always have to earn those treats. So when the treats come out, they are automatically ready to listen and take action. Plus, I keep the training sessions short. Three to five minutes at the most. It keeps us from getting bored, ensures I can find time, and several small sessions help them retain information better than one long session.
So what’s new on the dog training agenda? I sure would like to make it easier to get good photos of them. This means I need them to sit where I tell them instead of wherever they want. I would also like for them to stay in the position I put them in. So if I want their head to face a certain way, I need to teach them that stay means to not move at all. Maybe I will call it a “freeze” command. I’ve already started this a little with trying to get them to balance a treat on their nose.
I also want to do a different version of the “look” command where I have them look certain directions without me having to point. These dog tricks will really help me when I make more pet travel videos or take photos of them wearing their dog seat belts or using other pet travel products from my retail site. Although they will be learning these things for work, I will make sure it is fun. Maya and Pierson love to learn and I want to keep it that way.
We have a few more resolutions in 2014, including staying fit. But they aren’t “new” resolutions. They are just promises to keep doing what we are already doing. Maya and Pierson are already very fit and already eat healthy. We resolve to keep up with that trend.
So what is a New Year’s Resolution you have with your dog?