This post is part of our 2012 Training Challenges series. Each month we'll tackle learning a new trick, command, behavior. You name it, we'll train it. Seriously...if you have an idea, let us know in the comments below!
I've often said that Hurley is incredibly smart. I frequently call him a genius puppy. Why? His ability to learn anything faster than I can teach it. Literally.
Case in point. We're working on Roll Over. We started the last week of January and have been very lax in the number of training sessions we've done. This is exactly how much time we've put into it:
Week One: 2-3 training sessions of about 15 minutes each. First session was about getting Hurley comfortable rolling onto his side so he got clicks & treats simply for laying on his side. Second (and third if we did a third that week, I can't remember) session was about getting him to roll over while being lured by a handful of treats. No verbal command used to mark the rollover yet; it was just about getting him comfortable with the movement.
Week Two: Last week, we did a couple training sessions in the store (probably 15 minutes each) continuing to build on his comfort level rolling over. I also worked on withdrawing the lure by keeping my hand full o' treats farther away from his snout. I was still moving my hand across his body/back to elicit the roll over but I was able to back the hand away about a foot to 18 inches away from his body.
Week 3: This past weekend, the Hubster worked on roll over with him. On Wednesday, I had a 15 minute session in the shop. As soon as he hit his side, he immediately did a roll over without being lured (I did have treats in my hand but hadn't had the chance to move my hand before he flopped over) and so I started marking it with the verbal cue. He even figured out the hand cue before I had decided what it was going to be. If that doesn't tell you who's smarter between the two of us...
Total time Spent on Roll Over: 90 - 120 minutes. Yup, that's it folks. He's about 80% of the way there.
He is at the point that we are "showing off" his trick to customers. Hurley loves to show off so I use it to cement whatever we are learning. Even on a command he's being stubborn on, he can never resist the temptation to show it off to his adoring fans (yes, he is fully aware of how many people he has wrapped around his dewclaw).
And while he may be smart, he's not perfect. Dude can't figure out how to roll over on his left side.
Training videos coming soon & next week I'll share the trials and tribulations otherwise known as me trying to train Maggie & Sadie.