Oh, this is a great idea!See, January is what the Association of Pet Dog Trainers has designated as Train Your Dog month. On that site, they state "We selected January as the perfect month because so many dogs and puppies are adopted or purchased from breeders and brought home during the winter holidays. Our desire is to help these new pet parents start off the new year right with their newest family member", which I think is great, and I definitely support!
I’d like to teach Elka how to close a door. I’d also like to teach her the every so cute “say your prayers”. We’ll see if I make headway on both, or either!
Elka tends to be a big fan of training sessions, because she loves treats! When she hears the clicker rattle as I get it out, she comes running, and watches treat preparation with enthusiastic interest.
Here's where I break it to you: I haven't taught Elka how to close a door, or how to say her prayers. We've got some beginning behaviors for the prayers trick captured, and I've worked a bit with targeting a yogurt lid with her paw, to get the door thing, but I haven't focused on either, and especially not this month. It's been cold, and I've been lazy.
But, all is not lost!
You see, with the cold has come sporadic snow, and rain, and icy front steps. I don't fancy taking a spill down those steps when taking Elka out to eliminate, and through practice and repetition, rather than clicking and shaping, I've taught a new behavior, specifically when going down the front steps: Slow.
See, my routine with her to go out the front door is very specific. I get the leash, I get my shoes (and coat!). Elka comes to the front door. I ask her to Sit, I clip her leash to her collar. I tell her to Wait. I open the inside door, and then the screen door. Elka stares at me. I say "Okay", to let her out the door, where she waits at the end of her leash for me to close the inside door. I say "Swing" (so that she comes around to Heel at my right) and we go to the top of the stairs. Sometimes I ask for a Sit here, sometimes not.
Then, as I start down the stairs, I say "Slow", to keep Elka in Heel with me on the steps. To teach this, I took the steps particularly slowly myself, and shortened up the leash. If she pulled, or forged ahead, we turned around and went back up the stairs. Rinse, repeat. We're now to the point where I can ask for "Slow", and we go down the steps, loose leash, with Elka at heel, which she then breaks in the driveway to sniff around for her "special spot".
It isn't flashy or impressive, but it sure is useful!