Train Your Human Using Positive Reinforcement
Happy New Year! Okay, so I'm a little late publishing this blog post, but it's been a ruff start to the year, what with the Omicron surge and the weather whiplash we've been having. I've been running ragged trying to cheer up my human family members with sloppy kisses, nose bumps, and bedtime snuggles. Now that things seem to be leveling off, I can finally get back to my dog blogger duties!
New Year's Eve was its usual dreadful experience. My mom turned up the television to try to drown out the sounds, and cursed our neighbors under her breath, but it was to no avail. I did, however, discover a silver lining: if you act scared of fireworks, you suddenly gain permission to curl your 75 pounds of canine flesh up neatly in the lap of your mom or dad! It’s almost worth the trauma!
And speaking of people training ideas, did you know that January was “National Train Your Human Month”? That's right, and to celebrate, here’s my short list of “People Training Tips for 2022”. You can thank me later!
Training a Reliable Recall
I was talking to my friend Cooper the other day, and he was telling me about this great device his mom had installed, which is essentially a button for calling humans! Apparently it was installed at the suggestion of their “trainer”, a person Cooper describes as an auto treat delivery device. The trainer referred to it as a “doggie doorbell”, the idea being that dogs use the device to let their humans know when they need to go out to use the facilities. Anyway, once the device was installed by the back door, and he touched it with his paw, it made a nice chime, and he received a treat! And, the door opened and they went outside to play! After a while the treats stopped, but it’s still pretty cool, he said, because every time he’s bored all he has to do is go over there and ring the bell, and oila!, here comes his mom and they go outside to play!
Training Focused Attention and Eye Contact
There are so many ways to gain attention from people that I cannot list them all here, but here are the most effective: barking, whining, jumping, digging, picking up gross things off the street, or scratching at the door. Simply choose your favorite, and your human will give you all the eye contact and attention you could ever want! (maybe a little more than you want, but hey!). Comment and let us know your personal favorite!
Gaining unlimited access to household areas
If your human family members are trying to keep you off the sofa, the bed, or any other piece of furniture, use this tried and true technique: when no one is in the living room, curl yourself up on the sofa, and wait. When someone walks in the room and looks sternly at you, put your saddest puppy face on, slowly slink off the sofa and walk dejectedly to the closest tile or hardwood floor, turning in a circle three times before sinking to the floor with a sigh. Your human will feel very bad that you are stuck sleeping on the hard floor (never mind that they’ve provided a luxurious orthopedic bed for you). Remember, consistency is key! Over time their will is degraded, and they will succumb to the undeniable power of the sad puppy face.
Training “Drop It” into your food bowl
This is a tip that I have heard from many friends and neighbors. I have not been successful using this technique with my own parents, due to my mom’s extensive knowledge of dog psychology. She is an outlier, though, so most will have success with this. (I have, however, had some success getting her to switch my food about every three months by scratching my ears and licking my skin when I get bored with a particular food).
When they put your food down, sniff it and walk away, with a bored look on your face. Your human will get a concerned look, asking, “What’s wrong, you don’t like your food anymore?” Just keep ignoring the food, no matter how hungry you get. At first they won’t pay too much attention, but as the hours drag on, they will get more and more concerned. You might hear them discussing you in hushed voices: “I’m worried Luke’s not feeling well. He hasn’t even touched his breakfast! If I can’t get him to eat I may have to take him to the vet.” As frightening as that sounds, it’s actually a sign that cracks are appearing, so don’t panic! Almost always at this point something will be added to your bowl to sweeten the deal. Maybe some chicken broth, maybe a little bit of shredded cheese, maybe even real meat! This is their attempt to see if you’re really sick. Bingo! You can now readily enjoy your meal. They may try to go back to plain kibble again the next day, but just repeat until you get the desired response.
I have many more tips that I can’t wait to share with you, so stay tuned! And if you have a great people training tip, please comment and share it with us!