Wally the Picky Picker-Upper | Exploits of an Amateur Dog Trainer: Blog Edition

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wally the Picky Picker-Upper

Wally was carrying stuff nicely, so I was thinking of making that a job for him. He can be a "third hand" for me as well as his opening and closing doors that he does. Okay, so he carries the duster, can pick up and carry his toys to another room, and watches the kitchen (read: barks whenever something beeps in the kitchen so I can come check on it). All seemed well.

Ah, but dogs a great that showing you the bugs in the training you've done, and Wally found one.

He only picks up certain things

Well that's not going to work out so well, so I try to have him pick it up again, but he just won't. I hold the thing in my hand, and ask again. He puts his paw in my hand instead. At first, it seemed like he was confused, perhaps I was sending mixed signals.

But, if I put, say, his dumbbell or rabbit toy in my hand and ask for a 'take it', he grabs it like it was nothing. So what's going on here? Why is he not taking the other object?

It turns out it's more a textural thing. In other words, he doesn't like the feel of the object in his mouth. He'll eventually take it and either drop it immediately or just barely have it in his mouth, like he's holding it with just one of his small teeth.

After a lot of coaxing, he'll eventually hold on to it and carry it, but that's not good enough. Other objects he struggles with, like my mom's glasses, because he has a hard time getting a grip, literally. I think, overall, it's a case of more practice and getting him to be more mouthy/more willing to offer mouthing behaviors on objects.

I think I have my idea for next week's "All-Positive Monday", though! Practicing picking things up! We'll attack it from a shaping direction to see if that doesn't help him get more of an idea.