Howdy Ya’ll! Like I promised, today I’m going to demonstrate how you to can perform one of the death defying stunts as seen on my Christmas Video: A Jack Russell Christmas. Actually I’ll start with a potentially delicate one that can also be used for household clean-up tasks.
You saw in the video where I put a toy and tissue paper back into a bag. This trick is just a variation of my daily chore of cleaning up my toys.
Here’s how I learned the trick.
First of all, I already knew fetch so the part about picking up an object and bringing it back was easy. (If you need to start with that go here to see how I learned it.)
First, what you need is a box and a bunch of treats that are easy to dispense. My human used my kibble for treats and, for this trick, she dispensed them using a Treat&Train®.
You’ll see why shortly. You can dispense the treats with your hands instead and use the sound of a clicker to mark the correct behavior, but you have to be extra careful to avoid waving your hands in ways that are distracting to your dog. You also have to work extra hard at delivering the treat quickly into the box so your dog doesn’t get confused or frustrated.
Here I am eating my treat out of the Treat&Train, which is in the box.
My human could just toss a treat into the box without a Treat&Train as long as she’s has good aim and I don’t intercept the treat.
When I started learning, the box edges were short at first. My human tossed the toy and I fetched it and brought it back to her hand, which was over the box. Once I handed it to her, she dispensed a treat from the Treat&Train, so I stuck my head into the box to get the treat. This is very ingenius. By dispensing treats in the box, she was making sure that I was more likely to stick my head into the box.
After practicing that a bunch of times, she then tried the same thing without placing her hand over the box. Because I had run to the box and received treats there so many times, I just naturally still brought the toy back to the box.
Then, when I was pretty good at that, she raised the box sides so they were a little higher. That was no sweat for me.
Then she moved the box away from her so I could figure out to put the treat in the box, not just lay it down somewhere near my human.
Next, in order to make sure that I understood to take the toys to the box rather than just to the Treat&Train or to a location near her, she placed the Treat&Train next to the box.
My human was careful to avoid saying any words because until I know the behavior, a word is just noise. But once I consistently could put toys into the box when she pointed, then she started adding the word right before she pointed. So the word came to mean that she was going to let me know which box to put the toy in (even though there’s only one box here).
That’s pretty much it for the clean-up of toys but putting a toy into a little bag is a little trickier. To help me learn to get the toy into this narrow bag, my human made a hole in the bottom of the bag so she could give me treats while I stuck my head in. This gave me the idea that putting my head into the bag was a good idea. She also put something in the bag to help keep the bag open.
Then she tossed a toy and told me to clean up. I put two and two together and figured out that she wanted me to put the toy in the bag.
Next, she taped the bag onto a present and repeated the exercise. This is much tougher because I can barely reach that high so she had to go back to rewarding me in with treats in the bag (which caused me to smash the bag). But after a few rewards in the bag, I got the idea again and had the trick down!
The tissue paper was just a variation.
Tissue paper is tricky because it kept trying to trip me. I finally put the paper sheet in it’s place.
Then the other pieces were more cooperative.
Well, that’s it for this trick. Seems complex when you first see it but it’s actually simple, even for more average dogs like my sister, Lucy, the Australian Cattle dog, who aren’t as smart as me. And, if you have a Treat&Train, then even humans who are slow and uncoordinated, such as my grandparents, can manage to get this trained.
Now, behaving politely and calmly around squirrels and rude barking dogs is another story. That takes way more skill on the part of the human and impulse control on the part of the dog!
If you want your human to learn the science and techniques that will allow them to teach these superfun tricks as well help make good behavior a fun habit, you can order both Skills for Handling Your Reactive or Hyperactive Dog Part One and Part Two, and Pet Dogs, Problem Dogs, High Performance Dogs DVDs at Low Stress Handling.