You might not know it, but I'm working toward a diploma of Dog Training from the Companion Animal Sciences Institute. It might be hard to believe that I, the person who raised Ziggy the incorrigible dog, would claim to know anything about training dogs. If you met Remi or Noelle, my own two dogs, you would definitely find it hard to believe. But let's pretend they would be much worse behaved if it weren't for my knowledge and skill. In fact, if you haven't met them, let's pretend they are all very well behaved dogs! Thank you.
For my most recent school assignment, I decided to teach Ziggy how to "gimme four". It's kind of like "shake", so I think I can claim I taught him two tricks instead of just one. This was the first time I ever trained a dog using clicker training and shaping. In the past I have used more traditional methods as well as lure/reward training, but clicker training always seemed too difficult. But it was finally time for me to figure it out, and I must say I was amazed at the results.
Since Ziggy is deaf, I couldn't use a traditional clicker, so I got a keychain flashlight that would come on whenever a button was held down. It is the same concept as a clicker but it is a visual sign instead of an auditory sign. In spite of my poor timing and lack of confidence in what I was doing, Ziggy figured out how to "gimme four" within two 10 minute training sessions. It's a good thing he's so smart. Now I'm motivated to teach him some more tricks. My next assignment with my training class calls for teaching a chained behavior, so I'm going to attempt to teach him to put his toys away in the toy bin. This will take more than two sessions. But fortunately he's very smart and very food motivated and we have a lot of opportunity to work on it. If any of you out there reading this have any advice, I'd love to hear it! Here is a short video of me working with Ziggy on "gimme four".