We’ve been having fun with training over the last month! I taught Luke how to “back up”, we had a breakthrough with nail trimming, and we took this month’s Positive Reinforcement Training Week’s challenge to teach your pet something new in ten minutes.
I wanted to do “back up” just for fun. When I first started it, just walking towards Luke to get him to back up, all he wanted to do was jump or he’d move off to the side. We didn’t get far in the first session, but he was clicked and treated if he took even one step backwards. As seems typical with him, by our second session he was getting it better. Once I had him doing it, for fun I added the command “beep, beep”, like a truck backing up! We don’t have it perfected yet, but we’re making progress. If he doesn’t back up at the voice command, I sometimes still take one step towards him and that usually works. Luke responds more to gestures than verbal cues sometimes.
I decided to take a little video. We played for over 5 minutes, and I picked out the clips where he did the best and put them together. Not the greatest video….my multi-tasking skills aren’t the best. One thing he does that is funny, is he’ll often back up, and then jump. I think this goes back to his high five training, for “all ten” where he gives me both paws. When Luke isn’t sure what I want, he’ll just throw something in there that he knows. I think it’s so cute.
My constant “beep, beep” in the video might be annoying, sorry. When I was watching the whole video myself (it is only one minute long now), I noticed two things. I was constantly laughing and calling Luke silly or a nut, and he just looks happy throughout. We were having FUN and that was the important thing!
A couple of months ago I wrote how I was working on handling Luke’s paws so we could do nail trims. I was making progress, but those nails needed to be trimmed, and the progress just wasn’t fast enough. I remembered a post I had read once from Maggie at Oh My Dog!, called “Peanut Butter Plate”. In short, you smear a bunch of peanut butter on a plate, and let the dog lick it off while you trim their nails. This works! If you’d like the detailed instructions, please visit Maggie’s blog by clicking here. This was a complete breakthrough with Luke and by the second time we tried it, I was able to trim every one of his nails, and by the third I was even able to go back and even them out some. Next time I’m going to try to add some filing as well. He will still occasionally try to pull his paw away from me, but I persist and he’ll give in. I am thrilled and so grateful to Maggie for sharing this! I highly recommend giving it a try if you have this same issue.
Just a couple notes: I have a grooming table, but using this bench actually works quite well for me (doing it on the floor hurts my back). When Luke was younger, he was leaping on and off that table too much, so I put it away for a while. I haven’t tried this technique yet with the girls, because they’re pretty good with nail trims, but it seems only fair that they should get peanut butter while having it done too!
Finally, for the Training Week’s challenge, I decided to see if I could train Luke to close doors. We started out with a sticky note on a cabinet door, and click and treat if he would touch the note with his nose (you can have them do it with their paws as well, but I didn’t want scratches on my doors). By the end of our first 10 minute session he was easily touching the note for a treat. After he had that down, I opened the door part way. It was more challenging the next time to get him to touch it hard enough to actually close the door. I had to experiment a bit with the placement of the note so the door would close more easily, and we’re still working on this, and making progress. He is not closing it every time, but sometimes, so I’m pretty sure we’ll get there after a few more sessions. Once he’s pushing harder, I’ll open the door wider and then we’ll try with different doors as well.
When Luke gets frustrated, he’ll lie down. That’s when I know it’s time to end our session, or that I may be moving too quickly. We’ll back up a bit and end on a high note, and I always find that when we get to the next session (which is often a few days later), he remembers right where we left off. He’ll touch that note as soon as he sees it, so we just have to work on getting him to touch harder and close the door. At the end of today’s session he had done it a few times so I have a feeling next time we’ll definitely get further.
We’re happy to be joining Positive Reinforcement Pet Training Week. It begins on the first Monday of every month and runs all week long. This week they are holding a giveaway for a $75 training prize pack, so be sure to go to the hosts’ blog and enter! The hop is hosted by Cascadian Nomads, Tenacious Little Terrier, and Rubicon Days. Please visit them as well as other blogs through the links below for more positive pet training tips.
Such a smart boy! And you’re such a smart mama, too, listening to Luke’s cues and modifying your training to work for him. I want to teach Barley to back up, but haven’t found a good way to communicate what I want. She either circles around me or starts dodging or collapses on the floor for a belly rub if I walk towards her. She’s very good at walking towards me when I’m the one backing up, but we’ve got work to do with her backing up 🙂 The peanut butter plate idea is genius–I’m afraid that Barley would have that plate polished before I even picked up one foot, though! I got a nail grinder and we spent weeks just sticking one nail at a time in it with it off and getting a billion treats between each one. This week I finally got around to getting batteries for it, so we were able to try a few nails. She doesn’t like it, but she tolerated it. I’m hoping it will help us keep her nails shorter in the months when we aren’t able to walk as much.
I wish I could give you some tips on the backing up, but I honestly don’t know how I finally got Luke to do it right (and he still doesn’t always go straight backwards)! One tip I did read though was to do it in a narrow area so that they have less room to turn around at least.
I was actually surprised that I was able to do all four of Luke’s paws in one sitting. I really spread the peanut butter around and thinly though so he had to work at it. You might want to at least give it a try! I tried a grinder once too but the one I got was too noisy and none of the dogs liked that. I have trouble with my hands and the clippers can be hard on them sometimes…that’s why I do get Sheba’s done at the groomer at least every third time or so, hers are the thickest and most difficult to do.
Callie, Shadow, and Ducky's Mom says
You’re doing a great job with Luke’s training, Jan! I just cannot get the hang of the clicker. I either click too soon or too late — and never consistently one or the other — so I gave up. All I was doing was confusing Ducky and frustrating myself. I’ll have to try the beep beep/back up trick with her. She’s a fast learner, so it shouldn’t be too hard.
Thank you, Sue. I know the clicker can be hard to get used to, and it took me a while to get decent at it. It takes some coordination which I don’t normally have! Loose leash walking was the hardest. But it’s just a learning tool, and once Luke has something down, I don’t use it anymore.
I’d love to hear if Ducky learns the beep, beep!
It’s good to see Luke having so much fun in the video! We have found backing up very useful at times – when I was an adolescent I’d investigate with no thought for how I was going to get out again!
That’s a great idea for getting the dog’s attention while trimming nails.
I’m now waiting for the time that Luke gets stuck somewhere he needs to back out of, so we can see the practical use for this trick as well! 🙂
Love the video! Also, what a fantastic idea for nail-cutting. I’m going to have to try that peanut butter trick! Thanks for a great post 🙂
Tenacious Little Terrier says
Luke is making such progress! Are you going to teach him how to open a door as well?
I’m not sure….I’d have to rearrange my kitchen again, since treats and food are kept in the lower cabinets! 🙂
Sand Spring Chesapeakes says
You’ve been busy, great progress with Luke. Cute video and thanks for the nail trimming tip. After all my years at the vet clinic I never mentioned that or tried it on my own dogs, Thanks!
I am very impressed with all the tricks you have taught Luke with the clicker using positive enforcement. I love the beep beep you do when asking him to backup. That’s too funny! I’ve never used a clicker before for training but may try in the future. I am also impressed that you clip his nails.
Thank you, Jennifer! I went to a seminar by a groomer once where they showed nail trimming, and when you have 4 dogs it seemed easier to try it myself than to have to take them all somewhere to get it done. I’m conservative though, I’ve only made one of my dogs bleed once, but that was enough for me! I try to do them more often since I don’t cut them as close as a groomer or vet would.
Clicker training really is fun. Luke has taken to it very well which helps…our other 2 dogs aren’t quite as natural at it as he is.
Cascadian Nomads Bethany says
Having dogs that don’t like peanut butter is tough… 🙁
You and Luke are a maniac training team! Wow! When looking at that last picture all I can see is Wilhelm going past the target and into the cupboard to find some food that is better that what I am giving. tee, hee. Very few dogs take to oral cues. A wonderful pet behaviorist/positive trainer I saw at a lecture recently said that verbal cues are really just for the trainer. The vast majority of dogs go strictly off of visual cues and she even said that some dogs learn faster/more accurately when we humans are silent. I attended a workshop once where we had to train silently, though, and it was difficult, to say the least! Thanks for joining the hop again this month. I always love seeing you and Luke up the learning ante’s together!
Oh, I almost said that too…”this might not work if your dog doesn’t like peanut butter” but I thought that was probably a rare thing! 🙂
Oh, I had to be careful when picking which cabinet door to use, because the one right next to that one is where the dog treats are!
I’m glad you told me that about oral cues, I’ll be sure I always do some sort of visual cue as well when training (since I’m one of those French people that “talks with their hands” it does come naturally though).
I love the “beep beep” 🙂 Laika just gets a boring old ‘back up’ but now I know I should have done beep beep. I love that tip about nail trimming; we do fine until I get to her back paws. That’s when I’ll try breaking out the peanut butter. Love all the progress – and as you say it’s all so much fun which makes it way more rewarding.
Luke is worst about his back paws as well. I thought it might be because of his bad knees, but maybe not, if that happens with other dogs like Laika too.
Actually Laika has arthritis in her back hips; so you may be right. I was never sure if that was why or if it was just her preference. It probably does have to do with being sensitive.
It seems like we’re on to something here! 🙂 I just try to be extra gentle with Luke’s back legs, picking up the paw as little as I can and still be able to get to the nail.
Alix Mitchell says
You are making such great progress. Congratulations! I aslo have “beep beep” in my list of tricks to teach Buster. Peanut butter works wonders. I’ve been known to smear it all over my kitchen cabinets to get Buster to keep standing in one spot. I’m sure the plate is much less messy though, lol!
That makes me think I could use peanut butter on the doors to get Luke to close them too! I actually did read that as a method to teach them to turn off lights…I might try that one sometime too.
2 Brown Dawgs says
Nice job. Luke is really coming along.
Pawesome Cats says
Great clicker training – Luke is a clever doggie!
Rachele Baker, DVM says
That’s great that your training with Luke is going so well. In the video, he seemed very focused and like he really wanted to please you. And since you are both having fun that makes it even better!
The Island Cats says
Luke sure has done well with the clicker training.
I totally didn’t find the beeping irritating. I actually think it’s ingenious in a hilarious way and just may copy that. LOL 😛 #ImitationIsFlattery
I’ve been taking a different approach to nail cutting. I cut 1 nail and she gets a while dish of food. She’s super happy about it but you guys look a lot more productive than us over here. Haha!
I’ve just taught Donna to close cabinet doors this year too! My husband swears she’s gonna become stupid since she keeps slamming the door with her head. LOL *oops*
Great post, and I love that you have video. Seriously, show the tell seriously works a lot better than text. At least I find it so. Hahaha 😛
Have a great week ahead!
oops sorry for the typos!
I’m glad you didn’t mind the beeping! It probably got to me because I had to watch 5 minutes of video over and over when editing it. 🙂
We started out our nail trimming with trim nail, treat, trim nail, treat, but it just wasn’t working. He really has to be distracted when I’m actually cutting the nail. Then we did some paw handling and one nail at a time like you….but it was taking too long and his nails were growing too fast!
Ha ha, Luke hasn’t used his head to close the cabinet yet, but he does hit it repeatedly with his nose at times. Still photos just don’t seem to work for showing tricks so much, my camera is way too slow.
I’ll have video of the door closing soon….we’re making good progress with it.
Jessica Claudio, DVM says
Very impressive training. Good luck on the new command!
M. K. Clinton says
I am so impressed! The peanut butter on the plate is brilliant!
What a smart boy! You can tell he’s very eager to please his Mom! 🙂
Thanks, Auntie Sheryl! And yes, he is…he’ll be happy to show off his new tricks to you too next time you visit.
Ann Staub says
Haha! That is such a cool idea for a trick! You are so smart Luke! And I think Shiner needs to learn how to close doors too… she knows how to open them but never shuts them 😉
Lara Elizabeth says
You’re doing so great with Luke! Ruby does the exact same thing when she gets frustrated during training: lays down. I love how much clicker training can teach us about ourselves as well as our dogs. Thanks for joining the hop!
Groovy Goldendoodles says
This week I’m going to start clicker training with Jax. So excited! Never thought about the backing up trick – perhaps I will test that one out on Harley. P.S. – love that “beep beep” sound you make too! Take care….
I hope you enjoy the clicker training as much as we have been. I trust you will be sharing about it as well!
Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady says
Ok now that is just a fantastic idea!!!!!
ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
You are doing a great job with training Luke and fun tricks are good for days when you can’t get outside too.
I’m afraid once I taught Delilah to close the door, she’d figure out how to open it. LOL
And we use beep, beep in our house too, it’s something we learned in our first puppy class and it made sense to us. Plus it’s much nicer than screaming, “Get the F*** out of my kitchen.” Which is usually directed at Delilah. 😉
Learning to open the doors would definitely be a nightmare….it’s hard enough remembering to keep things on the counter out of reach!
I frequently have to send Luke to his bed when I’m in the kitchen, and once in a while I’ll get tired of saying “bed” and pointing at it, and something similar to what you said will slip out. 🙂
Mom says beep beep when she wants us to move out of the way! Sounds like you are having a blast training him. Can’t wait until you start training him to drive 😉 That would be a challenge!
Ha ha, Emma….Luke is such a smartie, I’m pretty sure he could learn to drive! Maybe I could have you teach him though, I’d probably be a nervous wreck. 🙂