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Dog Project
For our current class, Obedience for Dog Sports, we need to think of a project. We're supposed to work on chaining behaviors -- that is, we'll give one cue, and the dog will perform three (or more) behaviors in a row. As an example, right now Galen knows "Come", which means (a) come to the area directly in front of me from wherever you are and (b) sit there. So that's two behaviors off one cue. I'm having a hard time thinking of three behaviors that make an interesting or useful set to use for the project.

We can use behaviors he already knows well (Sit, Down, Stand, Stay [in all those positions], Come, Touch [touch my hand with your nose], Shake), behaviors we're still working on (Heel, To [go out to a target and touch it], Wave [like Shake, but without touching anything], Settle [go out to a mat and sit or lie down on it], Here [like Come but without the sitting part -- he's actually pretty good at it but it's new, since we started with the more formal recall]), or new behaviors (Spin, Roll Over, Crawl [Cathy's been working on these three for a week or two], or anything else you can think of). We probably don't want them all to be brand-new, because he's got to learn them before we can put them together.

Any ideas?

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Too bad you can't train him to take out the trash or something. ;-)

Hm. I can't think of any part of that sequence that he's incapable of -- as long as the relevant doors aren't locked -- but many parts of it are things we don't really want to encourage.

It's like the warning the High School trainer gave us about training your dog to go get you a beer from the fridge -- he can do it, but once he's got the fridge open, he doesn't really care what you wanted....

Hee! Exactly.

Guy's service dogs used to do things like press the elevator buttons for him, and open doors and things, but again, you don't want your dog thinking he's supposed to open closed doors all the time, huh? :-)

Come, sit, heel.

Come, sit, wave.

Turn, spin, bow.

Sit, shake, shake with the other paw (or wave, wave with the other paw).

Sit, lie down, roll over.

I could go on and on ....

Spin and turn/turn around indicating different directions.

For this one Ista knows "Widdershins."

Ista does "Where's," which is like your "Touch," and she does "Bring," which means that she is not just to locate the thing but to take it to the person making the request. (We have not experimented to see whether she sneezes disgustedly if asked to bring a monkey somewhere or if she attempts to convince them to come with her. So far we have only asked her to bring things she can carry in her mouth.) So Touch and Bring would chain well.

Saturday we asked for tips on teaching Fetch, since we have gotten basically nowhere with that, and the trainer gave us a different approach to try. As a side-effect, it'll probably get Galen more comfortable with carrying things around, so one of these days we may get a useful Bring.

(She also mentioned how the more she sees him in action, the less she thinks "Lab mix" and the more she thinks "hound mix". Yep. Us too.)

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Labs are also common and kind of generic-looking, so I can see how it's a reasonable guess if you've got a dog of unknown and non-obvious heritage.

Galen looks quite Lab-like, but boy does he not have any of the typical Lab personality traits.

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Ooh, those are both good suggestions. (Upon further consideration, the problem was not so much thinking of clever combinations of three things as thinking of clever things to call combinations of three things....)

But after discussion, we are going with Ninja Dog: jump Touch, Down, and Crawl. It should be cute, he's already good at the first two parts, and the transition between them ought to be useful practice for going from exciting things to controlled things.

This is both clearly useful and basically what "Come" is already (it's a short stay, but it's long enough to put his leash on or tell him what to do next or whatever). Yay, we're already awesome! :)

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