Operant dogs….

The word “operant” in the context of dog training, means a dog that actively tries to figure out what you want as soon as you bring out your clicker and treats, and then tries to give you what you want, within the limits of its ability and understanding. A operant dog is having a good time playing the game with you, too.

I woke up with a nasty cold this morning, and it was several hours after I woke up before I felt like doing anything with the dogs, and even then, what I felt like doing was tiring them out so we could all go back to bed.

How to tire the dogs out quickly? Well, making them think usually works. I set up the Bosu ball, round side down, and I played with Rush on the Bosu for a while. It’s hard work, balancing on it with all four feet, and if I make him pivot and balance, it’s even harder. But he loves the game so much that I have to keep the Bosu hidden when I don’t want him to play on it. So I did that with Rush.

Dancer watched Rush get a lot of treats on the Bosu, and she came in and put a paw on it and looked at me. She does not like the Bosu. It moves, and motion is not something she likes. I gave her a treat for thinking about it, put the Bosu away, and took all the dogs down to the lawn to play for a bit. Then I put Rush and Elly inside, and I put the Bosu back out and looked at Dancer. She looked at me and very carefully put one foot on the Bosu, very slowly. Click!

She took her foot off, and I could see her brains whirl and steam start coming out her ears. She put one foot on, and I just looked at her, and she very slowly put the other foot on, trying to keep the Bosu from moving when she did it. Click! and I threw the treat away from the Bosu so she had to come back. She was a little more vehement this time, and it moved a little. Click! Now I wanted her to step on the Bosu a little, make it rock a bit. She did. Click! It took about ten treats until she was willing to rock the Bosu when she landed with her front paws, and the last time she ran over and did it without hesitation, so I gave her the rest of the treats and put the Bosu away.

I’ve assumed that she wouldn’t ever be able to stand on the Bosu with all four feet, but now I’m thinking she could get there. Something to try, anyway.

One thought on “Operant dogs….

  1. Terri Lomax

    I am soo going to have to talk to you. I have a mini poodle going thorugh obedience and agility. In fact .. I have three minin poodles doing that, and one recently in a ribbon show (ok, so the really good dogs might not have been there!!) // and he was 20% faster than any other dog over a jumpers course …. but I am only a learner … I’ve only been doing agility for a few years … my first dog, a toy poodle, is now 7 years old … but its the mini poodles who are fast

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