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.

14 thoughts on “Gracie Chronicles: Training Challenge

  1. Depressing that Gracie looks cuter with her ears pulled back than I do with my hair pulled back…. She is such a cutie!

    1. What did you use for a cue for Sam? I’m so glad to hear that the trick is a hit with folks.

      1. Whenever he licked his chops I’d reward him. Then he quickly figured out when I said it he’d get a tasty treat. Funny thing, he luck on one side of his mouth and the second time the opposite. So I’d say, “can you lick your chops?” And of course he did. Then I’d say, “can you do the other side?” And he’d lick the opposite side. Everyone one would “Oooh and Aww” and clap their approval. They always just loved it especially since no one else did it.

  2. That’s a great trick! I can just hear the squeals of delight from little kids when Gracie does it! The ear ponytail is cute, but I can understand why Gracie wouldn’t be “impressed” by it. 😂

    1. Hehe. Some days Gracie just has to put up with me!! Not very often, but its good for her once in a while.

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