As you do more and more tricks training with your dog, you can start combining the various different things you've trained them, to create new and more exciting tricks.
Coming from a marine mammal training background, I thought it would be really fun to teach Jack to do a little bit of a sea lion imitation, or to be able to catch rings on his head. So first, I taught him to get himself perched up on a box. Sit. Good. Wait! What I'm going to do is reward him for any movement towards the box. Ultimately, I want his feet up and on the box. Wait. OK. Good!
He's pretty ready to do that. To make sure he understands the behavior, I'm going to just toss this treat over there, so that I can give him a cue. Perch. Yes. Good job! Now, he's created this variation on this himself. I'm perfectly happy if he has two paws on the box. But now that I see him doing it, all four is really cute, so I'm happy to let the dog be creative. Sometimes, they come up with a better idea than I have.
Let's see what he does this time. Perch. Good. Looks nice. Good job! Now I'm going to focus on getting him comfortable with the ring. What I discovered with Jack with trying to do the ring toss, was that he was afraid of it. This often happens when you're training something. You discover something about your dog you didn't expect.
He found it very threatening to be approached with this ring, so instead of me approaching him with the ring, I slowly got him comfortable being around the ring, and eventually bringing his head through it. Good boy!
I also wanted to make sure that he was comfortable with the weight of it and feeling that. When you start doing this, if your dog seems a little scared of the ring or hesitant about it, it is a little bit odd to have something put up over your head that's a foreign object, make sure you don't let it go. Because if he was to get scared and run off, they don't want him trapped with a ring on his head, getting kind of spooked by that. We want to keep all the training positive, and take it slowly at the dog's pace.
If your dog is perfectly comfortable with bringing their head through the ring, which Jack is now, I can start doing it a little bit more aggressively, so to speak, kind of tossing that on. I use a soft foam ring, so that there's no weight, and if I aim inappropriately and I bonk him on the head, it doesn't hurt him.
So be really careful what kind of materials you choose when you do this. A light piece of cardboard cut in a circle with a little bit of fancy tape on it works just fine. Good boy, Jack. Now that he's comfortable with the ring, not worried about him being frightened by it, I'm going to toss it over his head, click, and reward. I want to make sure he knows it's coming. Click, and reward. Now I'm ready to combine the two.
OK. Perch! And that is our sea lion imitation.