Teaching Ronin A New Job - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-15-2016, 07:14 AM Thread Starter
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Teaching Ronin A New Job

Hey everyone.

We are approaching the cold winter months here in Canada, and I'm looking at teaching Ronin some different things around the house so that he feels like he has a "job" and is using his mind more when I'm not able to get him out for a nice long walk or play session. Tomorrow, with the windchill, for example, they are predicting here it could go anywhere between -35 to -40 degrees Celcius, and I've been sick all week, so I can't be outside with Ronin as much as I know he would like. So I though training a new skill might hopefully be a good way to keep him occupied.

I was thinking some kind of chore around the house, like helping to do laundry or learning to put the dishes in the dishwasher. I know it's not going to happen in a day, but it would be a good start and he would be able to have more mental exercise than just our daily training. As well as helping me with all the housework I do every week! lol I'm kind of at a loss though on how to get started. When I searched on Google, I found videos of dogs who knew how to do this stuff already, not instructions for us beginners on where to start. Wondering if anyone else has done anything like this with their GSDs? Or even if you can point me in the right direction of where to look that would be fantastic too!

Thanks!

"I am your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are my life, my leader. I will be yours, faithful and true to the last beat of my heart"-I am the German Shepherd
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-15-2016, 07:48 AM
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Treadmill training?

It is pretty easy to free shape picking up scattered toys and putting them in the toy basket with a clicker.

Hide and seek or nosework? I am in the process of trying to turn my dog's hide and seek game into actual nosework.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-15-2016, 07:49 AM
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Break up the task into smaller components. Take some time and really think about all the little steps involved and focus on teaching a single step. A lot can be done via shaping, so make sure you have a good understanding of how that works, and that he knows how to offer behaviors. If I am doing a training sessions and introduce an object my dogs will immediately begin to interact with it to figure out what behavior I want. Dogs that are new to shaping need to learnt that it is okay to offer behaviors, some will just sit and stare at first since they are use to waiting to be told what to do.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-15-2016, 07:59 AM
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Oh my goodness, how do you survive -35 celsius?! *Australian who has never witnessed anything lower than -3*

Funnily enough, I was bored one day and decided Rollo needed to learn how to 'sweep' haha. We have a dusting mop with a swivel head, and essentially we went through the steps (in the most basic way as possible, and many treats later):

- 'Take it' at the handle of the mop.
- I would walk away, and (trial and error) get Rollo to wait and then come, if he let go of the mop we would restart.
- Got to the point where I was able to develop the cue 'sweep', when he would take a number of steps dragging the mop 'sweep... good sweep!' with praise.

We're at the point now where if I'm using the mop, he will come over and expect me to get him to take it. I'm sure he is just excited that we're letting him drag something around the entire house haha. Bit of a silly thing to teach him, but at least he's cleaning up some of his own fur now I'm looking forward to some of the other replies to this, would love to know how people approach teaching their dogs new tricks as I'm a bit of a rookie.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-15-2016, 08:13 AM
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Here is how my dogs help with laundry. My big boy doesn't like to go up on the washing machine so I haven't taught him to drop the clothes into the washer.

I started by tossing a wash cloth onto the floor. When my pup picked it up to investigate it I Gasped and clapped. I marked it with Find Laundry. Once he got good at Find Laundry I would run to the washing machine every time he picked up the wash cloth. I had hoped he'd get excited and follow me and not think about dropping the cloth first. It worked. When he got close to the door of the laundry I traded the cloth for a small treat. That I marked with Bring Laundry. There was no treat for dropping the cloth, though. I say YES as a reward marker. That way I don't have to have the treat immediately in my hand when they have the bit of clothing like I did at first.
We moved and had a new laundry room. Now he had to follow me into the laundry room. That was easy to pick up. I also have the basket on the floor and he can pick things up and give them to me.

Do sort your clothing. Anything with long arms or legs gets tricky to carry as it can be stepped on. You might want to avoid dress shirts.

My big boy dog also Finds Coffee, as my husband likes to hide my cup in the morning before he goes to work. My dogs love apples and they each get a nice big crunchy slice when the mug of coffee is found.
I started by showing him the mug of coffee and if he sniffed the mug he got a small piece of apple. I marked it with Coffee. Then I put the coffee on a table. Find Coffee got rewarded when he pointed his nose to the cup, nearly touching it. Now, my hubby hides my cup before I and the dogs drop him off at the bus stop. When I get home, the dogs do their "business". When we come in, my boy goes right to Find Coffee. My hubby can even hide my mug behind closed doors of a low cabinet. When my boy finds it he stops and looks at me to indicate (his own idea) I reward with a nice big slice of crunch juicy apple.
My little she-pup hasn't learned this yet. I think she is not wanting to get into my boy's way. She only seemed to search once on her own. I suspect if I separated them, she would pick it up quickly.
Oh, and my he-dog does not indicate empty mugs, so it is the coffee he is searching for, not just the cup.
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Last edited by car2ner; 12-15-2016 at 08:17 AM.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-15-2016, 08:21 AM
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I empathize. It was around -25 Celcius here last night with windchill; cold early morning dog excursion.

It's not a "job" per say, but what about a tricks class if he has his basic obedience? Tricks can be the basis for real jobs, such as turning light switches on and off, fetching things for you, picking up toys, and opening doors (if you want them to know this one, I suggest having a rope on the handle of appropriate doors). All this stuff can be taught inside, and is thus great for cold season.

Tricks are also great "icebreakers" between the dog and other people, so they can be fun and beneficial for that reason too.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-15-2016, 09:04 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snakeybird View Post
I empathize. It was around -25 Celcius here last night with windchill; cold early morning dog excursion.

It's not a "job" per say, but what about a tricks class if he has his basic obedience? Tricks can be the basis for real jobs, such as turning light switches on and off, fetching things for you, picking up toys, and opening doors (if you want them to know this one, I suggest having a rope on the handle of appropriate doors). All this stuff can be taught inside, and is thus great for cold season.

Tricks are also great "icebreakers" between the dog and other people, so they can be fun and beneficial for that reason too.
I would love to do that with him, but the only people where I live that teach that sort of thing are the people who he used to go to doggy daycare and I won't be going back to them ever. While he was there, he was attacked by 2 dogs, children were allowed to run through the dogs and teased and tormented them so I don't want anything to do with them I'm afraid. On the plus side though, I found someone who is starting up a Scent Detection Class early in January so we'll be starting that which will no doubt be very mentally stimulating for him!

"I am your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are my life, my leader. I will be yours, faithful and true to the last beat of my heart"-I am the German Shepherd
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-15-2016, 11:22 AM
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Kristen Crestejo has a youtube channel, with really good 'how to' trick videos (and more)
https://www.youtube.com/user/Krissykris1468
One of them breaks down 'get a beer' if you want practical, but there is plenty there to keep your dog indoor busy.
If exercise is what you want, fetch and tug makes for a good workout in a small space (as long as you put away your breakables).
I used to play 'find me' in my tiny house, up and down stairs with my previous (gsd) girl, up and down stairs and she'd get the zoomies around furniture, somehow 'making do' with the tiny space she had available.
When you feel up to going outdoors--dress in layers, and out you both go. I use over-sized windbreakers (top & pants) over multiple layers, top & bottoms & go out in anything--you need to keep moving though, so not a solution if you're not feeling well.
Get well soon.

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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-15-2016, 11:58 AM
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Hauling fire wood. Deja loves it. We start out by her finding my leather gloves. She does everything in over-drive. She brings them to me after "Where are the gloves?". She gets one, then "the other one". I throw the smaller logs on the garage floor for her to bring them to me, one by one, while I wait at the hearth.
Emptying out the dryer, again in over-drive; pulling out towels and shake them to death. Not the intended behavior but hilarious. I love her zest for life. I only do this with lesser value loads.
Bringing her dish for getting fed. Bringing it back for cleaning. Carrying the newspaper, picking up stuff I (accidentally) drop. "Guarding" the bathroom door and making sure I am still in there.
Keeping a close eye on me all day long as not to miss anything.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-15-2016, 12:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by islanddog View Post
Kristen Crestejo has a youtube channel, with really good 'how to' trick videos (and more)
https://www.youtube.com/user/Krissykris1468
One of them breaks down 'get a beer' if you want practical, but there is plenty there to keep your dog indoor busy.

.
If you teach "get a beer," I suggest using bottles, and putting a bottle opener on the dog's collar.

It is a lot of fun (with a well socialized, friendly dog) to have your guests call the dog so they can open their beverage.
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