This little dog trick doesn’t serve much of a purpose, but other tricks build off of its actions. The actions we are looking to have the dog perform are:
- Take an object when asked to.
- Hold the object.
- Possibly hold the object so it won’t spill.
I have the assistance of my other dogs on this one! So, what I did was get Misty to take something in her mouth. She wasn’t interested in having things in her mouth if it wasn’t a dog bone. Here are the steps I actually had to do, to get Misty to take an object. This was definitely the fastest thing she has ever learned. It took about 15 minutes and she had it down (she also had incentives, the little dogs). Here’s what I did:
- I bought a can of her favorite food, wet cat food.
- I grabbed a plastic bowl, tupperware kind, with a lid, from the cupboard.
- I sat down on the floor and called Misty over. Of course she was all excited about the wet cat food. When she got it through her head that she wasn’t getting the wet cat food for nothing, she laid down in front of me. I had her full, undivided, attention.
- I put a bite of the wet cat food into the bowl, and put the lid on, but didn’t seal it. I wanted her to be able to smell the cat food inside.
- I handed the bowl towards her, and at the same time I said,”Take it”. Of course she just stared at me. I used regular English for this. I saved my foreign phrases for important commands like stay and come.
- I repeated the command, “Take it” and push it towards her mouth. Again, repeating, “Take it” I pried her mouth open and set it between her teeth. At first she pushed her tongue forward to push the bowl out, but when she closed her mouth slightly, very quickly, on the tupperware, I praised her big,”Goooood girl, gooooood girl!” And immediately opened the tupperware so she could take the treat of wet cat food.
She had no idea what she did to get the treat, but she knows she did something. I repeated steps 4 through 6, over and over again. Each time she closed her mouth better on the tupperware, I would praise her, open the lid for her to get the treat. I changed nothing about the steps at all. That’s important, so she can recognize what she did to get the treat given to her. I never moved from where I sat down, I did the exact same steps to put the cat food into the tupperware, and presented it to her. Soon she figured out it was something to do with her mouth was getting her the treat. I would repeat the steps. It didn’t take long before I could say,”Take it”, hold the tupperware out towards her and she would respond by leaning her head forward and taking the bowl. After she would take it, I stopped putting the lid on. I would make her take the bowl before she could eat the treat. I handed the bowl towards her, with no lid, she went straight for the treat, I pulled the tupperware back and said, “No, take it.” And handed it towards her again. I did that two, maybe three, times before she would straight up take the bowl and set it down to eat the treat. I repeated this process until the cat food ran out, about 15 minutes and that was that. She had it down!
This is a real short video of her taking the bowl take it .
Dogs being the food hoards they can be, on a subsequent day, I was reinforcing the “take it” command when Misty took the bowl, and holding it in a lowered fashion the gob of wet cat food rolled out and the Chihuahua was on it before Misty could say woof! This was a huge learning moment for Misty. Every time, after that, whatever bowl I hand her, she keeps it level so the item won’t fall out! So, I can’t really claim teaching her to balance the bowl, she taught herself that part of it, or the Chihuahua’s did.ik’]