October, the clocks had just gone back which meant the two or three hours walk Daisy had after work was now a thing of the past and while we looked forward to the 21st March and light nights again it was a long way off.
And being a Border collie made matters worse as mental and physical stimulation are a must to a 3-year-old collie. So, what could we do to pass the winter?
We have a garden to play in but it’s just not enough, so I decided maybe a little bit of trick training each night might help. I did a little research on line on what tricks we could try.
Daisy was very well behaved already and had the basics like sit, wait, lay down come etc. so I thought I would start with something a little harder and see how she got on and go from there.
The Bow – I have a plastic stick that we play with in the park so I thought I would start by putting that under her belly and holding a treat on the floor hoping to make her go down to retrieve it with her bottom still in the air.
At first, she kept looking at the stick under her belly and looking at me as if to say what are you doing, however after a while she stopped looking at me and just concentrated on getting the tasty bit of cheese in my hand. We did only about fifteen to twenty minutes a night, but it really helped with the not being able to walk as she seemed satisfied with the training and a bit of play.
So, after a week of the same job I added the word bow every time she went down to take the treat, and good girl as soon as she was in the right position. It seemed to be going great, so I decided it was time to try without the stick under the belly.
First few nights she ended up laying down, so, I thought if I touch her under the belly while saying bow that may help, sometimes it did and sometimes it didn’t, but she was enjoying the interaction. We didn’t have a problem with the going down for the treat we just had a problem keeping the bottom in the air.
I was making breakfast about a week later and a cornflake fell out of my bowl on to the counter, I called daisy and said you can have this if you bow, I could not believe my eyes when she stood there, head on the floor and bottom in the air. She did it without any help or encouragement from me. I made such a fuss of her I think the neighbor’s herd me, at first her front half wasn’t as low as it could be, but she was doing what I asked of her.
Speak – Daisy tends to kind of half bark if she gives you a toy and you ignore it, so I thought the next time she does it I’m going to say speak, and that is just what I did. I ignored the ball being put in front of my nose and after a moment she did it and I said SPEAK.
She looked at me with a head tilt. I then threw the ball for her. She brought it back to me and again I ignored her. She spoke again so I said SPEAK, I got the head tilt again but just showed she was listening to me.
The next time we practiced the Speak I got some treats and when she gave me the ball, I watched her and as soon as I thought she may speak I said SPEAK and if she did it at the same time I gave her the treat and made a great fuss of her as she was doing so well, I think because she already knew what I was asking her to do this was easier to teach her to do to command, I just had to add a word to her action.
Touch – Daisy already knows how to give paw so I thought what if I could get her to touch each of my hands with her nose. So, we started, I asked her to sit and I held a treat in the palm of each hand and held it out in front of her, when she went to get it, I said TOUCH.
She was having a ball, all the time we were doing this the tail was wagging which is great to see. As soon as I thought she got what I was asking her to do I did exactly the same but didn’t have a treat in my hands I held my hands in a low high 5 with her in a sitting position and said TOUCH. She did it. I only asked her to do it twice on each hand before making a fuss of her and giving big rewards.
The TOUCH is one of my favorite tricks I do with Daisy.
Turn – I started standing in front of Daisy with her facing me with a treat in my hand knowing she would focus on the treat. I held out my hand and making sure she followed my hand and encouraged her to move with my hand. With the treat visible she did, she got a “good girl “when she did a full turn, so the next time I didn’t exaggerate my arm movement as much but still had the treat visible and her eyes fixed on it round, she went.
After a few times using the hand movement I added the word TURN, and kept doing that for a week then I decided to try without holding the treat out for her to follow and just say TURN. She got it, Clever girl. I intend to start with OTHER TURN and see if she will turn to the Left also, but that is work in progress.
Look away – this trick we are still working on, and it is early days. At the moment I ask her to sit and hold a treat in my right hand and with my left hand I ask her to look away and she follows my left hand as I move it to the left and she does follow it the she gets “good girl” however unless I make hand movements for her to follow she hasn’t quite got it.
I have a very clever dog who is so willing to please, and I love every minute we spend playing games and learning about each other, I am blessed she found me and makes my life whole.
P Halls Copyright – Open College UK Limited Student
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