I’m so enjoying the Karen Pryor dog training course, but one of the early assignments has been super challenging. Not because I don’t know the strategy, but Gracie’s ears are too long and hairy and she’s too low to the ground.
Let me explain. The assignment is to capture a tongue lick. Capturing, in dog training, is taking a behavior that a dog would do naturally – licking her lips in this case – and putting in on cue so they do it when asked. You start by (in my case) clicking and treating when the dog licks her lips, since for Gracie (and many other dogs) a click and treat means they just did something you like and want them to do again. In clicker training, the timing is critical. You HAVE to click at the MOMENT the action you want to capture occurs so the dog knows exactly what they did right.
Do you have any idea how hard it is to capture a tongue lick on a dog with long hairy curly ears? Who is pretty low to ground too, so her ears hang in front of her face???
I always knew my old hair bands would be good for something. Gave Gracie an ear ponytail.
That didn’t solve the whole problem ’cause she’s still really low to the ground, and I wasn’t capturing the tongue flick at the exact moment she did it. So I put her up on the Klimb, a platform that’s about 12 inches high, so I could sit in front of her and see better. By that time she was pretty tired of the training, so we have to go back to it again, but we’ll get there. I’ve actually ordered a little grizzly bear snood for her which will make training easier, and I bet it will come in handy for pet therapy visits with kids too.
The ultimate goal is to add a verbal cue to it: “Do you like ______?” That’s a pretty long cue but I think she’ll get it eventually. And it will make a fabulous trick for therapy dog work. “Do you like steak?” Tongue lick. “Do you like cheese?” Tongue lick. I think folks will have a lot of fun with it, especially if I can get them to ask her what she likes. Stay tuned.