Three fundamental approaches work to Train Your Dog: motivation, manipulation, and mimicking.
Motivation works well for many simple behaviors. You try to get the dog to do the behavior by showing him a tempting treat and moving it around in such a way that he does something resembling the behavior you want.
You make a big fuss and give him the reward as soon as he comes close to doing what you want. Then, over time and many repetitions, you “shape” the behavior, requiring better and better performance before the dog gets the treat. If motivation doesn’t work, try manipulation. Manipulation means that you physically move the dog into position.
Oftenly first Train Your Dog to lie down on his side by gently pushing him into position the first few times. When he complies, he gets an immediate, exuberant reaction and a nice treat. Soon he catches on and can do the behavior on command without manipulation. If all else fails, try mimicking.
Though it requires patience and perseverance, mimicking is the only way to train some kinds of behavior. Once Stephanie taught a dog to yawn for a film role. She simply kept yawning at the dog until, once, finally, he copied her! Then she showered him with praise and rewards. It didn’t take quite as long until the next doggie yawn came along.
Believe it or not, a man even Train His Dog (Golden Retriever), through mimicking, to sink baskets into a regulation basketball hoop!
The dog watched his master play basketball and showed an interest in trying it himself. The man said it took over 2000 repetitions before the dog sank his first basket. Eventually, the amazing pup was able to perform this incredible feat quite dependably at half-time shows and even on live television!
Train Your Dog to Wave
Say “Wave” repeatedly. If he doesn’t seem to understand what you want, try a little manipulation. Touch him behind the leg or even lift his paw for him the first few times. When the paw comes up, make a giant fuss and give him the treat. Pretty soon he’ll get the idea. (Dogs aren’t stupid!) Then, little by little, with much repetition, shape and refine the behavior.
First be sure the dog can do the behavior on his own. Then gradually move the treat farther away. Next, move yourself farther away from the dog. Finally, your dog can do the trick on command from a distance.
Complex behaviors often consist of several simpler behaviors linked together to form a “chain”.
First, Train Your Dog to “Come” on command. Then taught to lift his/her front foot. Finally, taught him to come with his front foot still in the air, creating the “limping” behavior.
If you have a complicated trick in mind, try to break it down into its component parts and Train Your Dog each part separately first. Then put it all together.
So You’d Like Your Dog to be a Star?
If a dog is chosen for a job, the owner practices the desired behavior with the dog until it’s time to go on location. since the dog would be too distracted by the owner’s presence to focus on the work at hand.
In case you are seeing dollar signs, you should know that not every animal actor becomes a millionaire like Lassie. Such work is not particularly high paying. Still, dogs enjoy learning and many dogs love to perform. It must be great fun to see your dog’s face in a magazine, on television or in the movies!