"All-Positive Monday 14", Paw Gaming | Exploits of an Amateur Dog Trainer: Blog Edition

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Monday, June 27, 2011

"All-Positive Monday 14", Paw Gaming

In an effort to continue improving his eye-paw coordination, today we played a paw game.

The game we played was where I had a treat in my hand and moved it around, saying "get it, get it" (note to self, look up a shorter word for 'get it' in Spanish instead of the one I found before) and he, of course, tried to grab it. I don't have a name for it but I'll call it "Slap the Hand" for lack of any other creativity!

Later, I'll work on eye-mouth coordination, but this time I wanted him to use his paws to "slap" my hand. When he succeeded, I would praise him and give him the treat. For the first few times, he was still trying to grab with his mouth, but then he started realizing what was working.

At that point, I moved my hand a little faster and more erratically. I saw him use his paws more, trying to slap my hand and predict its movements. He kept getting better and I had to keep moving faster to make it challenging. I also changed height with the hand. He responded by using his "sit pretty" pose (pictured below) in an attempt to slap the hand. Dang smart dog!

He's not begging for food, but to play "Slap the Hand" again!
I don't know where he got that paw crossing from. He just came up with it.

Once that happened, he started going into the pose on his own even before I started the game. I took this and made it the signal that he was "ready" to play.

He got so good, I had to move my hand much more quickly and randomly. I included some start-and-stop movements, "jerky" movements and changing height much more frequently. He was having quite the time playing, and it was tiring him a bit it seems as his tongue starting hanging from the side of his mouth a little! I guess it's the combination of focus and concentration (tracking the hand with his eyes and his trying to predict the movements) and physical effort (taking the pose, moving quickly in short direction changes) along with of course the drive to get the food.

Later, I turned it into a bit of him not trying to get the food from my hand, but put a paw on it, leave it there, and then look at me. This might take some doing, but maybe the foundation of an idea formed in his head. For today, I simply delayed giving him the treat when he hit my hand (I also slowed the movement down and kept it more predictable). He clawed at my hand (I suppose that could be an indicator too, he could claw at the object hiding the treat), but then realized that wasn't working. He looked up at me wondering "what's up?". I moved the hand a little and he pawed it, and then just held it there.

That was a start and he got the treat. Next time, he did it again, and got another reward. Now I waited for him to look at me. I could see a bit of thinking on his part as he put the paw on my hand and was like "now what do I do?" he slowly looked up at me, which got rewarded. He did it a second time, and after that, I ended the session on that success.

It was great and quite a different activity. We'll be playing this again for sure!