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Discussion Starter #1
I'm a firm believer in teaching dogs LOTS of behaviors, even if they're not neccesarily behaviors that have any true use. Training tricks and other "nonsense" behaviors gets people to work more with their dogs, which increases the level of understanding and communication between dog and owner.

So I'm going to throw out some training challenges .. *L* .. and if you do this, I want you to post back with how you taught it, what worked/didn't work, how long it took, etc.

Challenge #1: Teach your dog to put his/her head in her collar.

Rules: Teach this in any manner you choose, but the end result must be that you hold out a collar (I use a martingale because it's big enough for the dog to just stick their head in) and your dog comes over to you and puts his/her head in the collar without any prompting other than verbal.

This is actually a very helpful behavior. I taught it to Khana when she was very young as my hands were sore and putting her collar on was difficult. She still does it (four years later) and it's great. I hold out the collar and the visual is enough for her to run over and put her head in it, but I can also say "collar" to remind her.

Good luck, and let us know how you're doing!

Melanie and the gang in Alaska
... trying to find things to do to alleviate cabin fever .. *L*
 

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Discussion Starter #2
By the way, I'm going to teach this to Tazer this week. She's never learned how to do this so it will be from scratch. The toughest part will be getting her to calm down enough to SEE the collar .. *L*

Melanie
 

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Most all of my guys already do this even though I do not recall actually training any of them to do it, intentionally.
 

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Well, that's not fair! Then the challenge should be harder for you .. *L* .. how about holding the collar up above a chair so they have to actually step up onto the chair to put their heads in the collar? Or hanging the collar from a hook and they have to go to it on their own and put it on?

There's always ways to make the behavior more interesting!

Melanie and the gang
 

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Jake learned this behavior quite by accident. He gets so excited when he sees his harness (special walks in the woods and car rides) that he runs over and dives through the neck opening.

Does this count? I'll start reinforcing it by telling him "collar" as he approaches.
 

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Yes, Renji holds out his neck for his collar and has learned to shove his nose through the GL loop (or at least try to, it's a small loop).

If your dog knows how to target your hand, this should be pretty easy- get your dog to target your hand through a large loop and progressively get smaller and ask for more until you end up with the collar. I'll have to try this with a slip lead and put my money where my mouth is.
 

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Diana said exactly what I was going to do. Since Risa already knows how to target my hand.

I'm going to go try this now and see how long it takes.

Okay, back. Spent about 15 minutes on it. I started off using targeting and was able to get Risa to put her head through the collar in about 5 minutes. I started moving my hand further and further away from the collar in an attempt to fade the signal. I wasn't very successful, however as she just started circumventing the collar. I wanted to see if I could get her to do it without a hand sign so I just presented the collar and started shaping instead. Hoping to build on the concept we just used with targeting. The first thing Risa did was scratch an itch (that she likely didn't have) and then she yawned (again, another stress sign). Eventually, she did stretch her nose out towards the collar and licked it so I clicked for the reaching out. She spent most of the rest of the time putting her feet into the collar (she LOVES foot-targeting). Of course, she'd get her feet caught in it so I had to keep removing them. Eventually, I was able to get her to put half her muzzle into the collar without prompting so I called it quits after a couple repetitions of that.

I love teaching Ris 'stupid' little behaviors so I'm always looking for more to add to her repetoire.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
If your dog already knows this behavior, then find a way to make it more complicated - the idea is to do some training, not tell us that your dog already knows it! *L*

The end goal should be that when you hold out the collar, your dog comes and puts his head into it without you moving the collar toward the dog. If your dog already does this, then add in something like stepping onto a box or chair; leaving the collar hanging so that the dog goes to it on command and puts it on (without you touching the collar), or make a stiff leash (like with heavy wire or a piece of doweling), put the collar on the end of it so it's well away from you, and then teach your dog to put his head in the collar while you're walking.

There are all sorts of variations, so if you're lucky enough to have a dog that already does the basic you can expand on that. No excuses for not training! *G*

I taught Trick to put her head in the collar with the stiff leash (made out of heavy black wire) and she would run up and put her head in even if I was moving. When I stopped and said "out" she'd pull her head back out and then go behind my back to do another trick I'd taught her (going to a little garbage can and pulling out bits of crumpled paper) before coming back and putting her head back into the collar. It was part of an act we had where I would stop to talk to the audience (usually a lecture on well-behaved dogs or something similar) and she would leave me to go do something that wasn't so "well-behaved" .. *LOL* .. and then I would turn and see the papers on the floor and scold my assistant (usually my niece) for not cleaning up. We'd do this two or three times and then Trick would bring me the trash can or I would turn and see her (by then the audience would be laughing and pointing when she went to the trash).

So there are some really neat side things you can add to this behavior if you want to. And no, I never had problems with Trick getting into the trash after that! It was a specific trained behavior - a specific little trash can that had papers only in it, so it wasn't like real trash.

I did start Tazer last night but I was feeling kind of lazy (bad me!) and I just did it when all the other dogs were out there too. So I had Khana trying to put her nose in the collar, and Trick came over and said "hey, I want some of this" and then she was trying to put her nose in too. Tazer did well considering all the distractions, but that's not the way to start! Later on I use the competition to make them try harder, but the initial training should just be the one dog.

Melanie and the gang in very cold Alaska
 

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After posting I went to see if Jake would do this without all the other "signs" that we're going somewhere. Nope. He just looked at me.

We'll start today with "touch" through the collar/harness. I'll let you know how long it takes my 11 week old to get it.

Shoot . . . I thought I had a freebie!
 

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Teach? Gad, anything that's associated with going for a walk, going for a ride -- you've got built in rewards right there. When I walked my dogs with special collars, those collars got instant attention. When the harnesses were associated with car rides, all I have to do to get the head in the right place is hold it and say "head!" I don't even need to do that. If they could, they'd get the whole thing on themselves! I'm not going to have the gimpy girls do anything more but it wouldn't have been much of a challenge. Now that I think about it I should have added "clean the house"....
 

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Spent another 10 minutes on it today. Was evident within the first minute or so that she got it.
I clicked her once for touching the collar and then the lightbulb went off. She started shoving her face into it.
I also did it from a couple different angles and from a distance. It may not be 100% yet, but she's definately got the idea.
 

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Today was mundane for me. In between fighting with very uncooperative colored pencils (or a very uncooperative sense of "art"), I've progressed farther with easing Renji into nail Dremeling and worked on fronts after fetching his toy. Yes, we're boring here today.


Melanie, the mental image I get reading your post has me laughing.
I wish you had some videos of that to post.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Jake's Mom, that's interesting. That was a good test of his real knowledge of the concept! I wonder how many of these dogs that already "know" the behavior truly know it alone or if they use all those "going for a walk" cues as part of the command.

Jamie, that's neat! Glad to see that she's picked it up. I love those "light bulb" moments .. *L*

Tazer is getting it. But she's so frantic to do things that she's still focusing on the collar too much and she tries to bite it, rub against it, etc. When she stops and thinks, then her nose goes through the opening. We practiced last night and it was coming together better. Haven't yet gotten to it today.

Khana was getting so frustrated that I wasn't working with her (she's shorter than Tazer so I hold the collar higher than she can reach to put her head through) that she started jumping up and grabbing the collar to pull it down within reach .. *L* .. I love how enthusiastic my dogs are! I also like how they think for themselves and try to figure things out.

This wasn't meant to be a very tough behavior, just something for people to do with dogs that didn't know the behavior yet. A fun, positive, bonding method. And it's handy too. When you have sore hands like I do, it's much easier if the dog just sticks their head in the collar. And it can work into some other fun behaviors too.

Melanie
 

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Well my guys wear their collars 98% of the time. Their cue for a walk is if I grab the camera bag.
Funny the picked up on the Canon bag IMMEDIATELY with no training. Totally different bag, shape, kept in a different area. Depressing when you realize the dogs really are smarter than their handler.
 

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Well we spent a few minutes on this at the park. Renji is VERY hyped up today and my gosh, screamed bloody murder when his brain-hamsters had to spin the wheels a bit too much, but he got the idea that putting his head through the loop in the leash got him some ball throwing.


I can't really do it with any collars I have because he can't shove his head through the prong (nor would I ever attempt it) and his buckle is sized so it cannot slip off his head. I'd need a martingale to do this properly, but in the meantime, the leash loop works just fine.
After teaching that, working on go-arounds, and some jumps, Renji is doing an excellent dead-dog impersonation. His brain-hamsters had better be satisfied for the night!
 

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I want to play, too! But, Grimm's collar is a flat buckle (plastic snap-lok closure thingy) collar... and it isSNUG, so it will stay higher on his neck so he can "hear me." I'm already using a collar that is too gentle for my dog and my situation (tough dog, weak hands)-- but it is forcing me to use my energy more and be less reliant on tools.

But-- I wanna play this game, too. What can I teach? Hmm.. what if I teach him to come into heel position and sit, waiting for me to snap the collar on? (anybody understand what I mean.. the collar is open, then i CLICK it closed, cos it needs to be a bit snug-- it isn't loose enough for him to slide his face into it)
 

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Patti, how about putting the collar on the edge of the sofa and teaching Grimmi to come up to it and rest his neck on the sofa and the collar and wait patiently for you to snap it closed? That would be AWESOME!

Or just do what I do and make a loop out of your leash and have him stick his head through the loop?
 

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Diana, I can totally relate to the "screaming in frustration" (the dog, not me! *LOL*). Tazer is SO darn vocal and if I don't move fast enough for her, she tells me so. I can only imagine what she'd be like in agility.

Patti, you could do the heel/stay concept. Or the leash loop like Diana is. Or you could teach him that when you hold out the collar (unbuckled) he's to lay his neck in the collar and hold still while you buckle it. That would be a real challenge for an energetic dog.

Tazer is trying to short-change the whole exercise. She sticks her nose in, rests it on the collar and then expects a treat! *L* So we're working on furthering the exercise so that she understands that her head needs to go all the way in.

Melanie and the gang
 

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OK, I'll bite (pun!)

Hold the collar in one hand. Hold a treat inside of the collar. As the dog reaches for the treat, move your hand back so that they put their head in the collar.

The dog associates collar = food. "Hey, this is a GOOD THING!"
 

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My guys know that 'Collar' means Sit and Wait for me to put on the collar. In fact, that is our homework for this week with Mauser in his puppy class!

All my gang wear buckled collars so we'll try the ... teach him that when you hold out the collar (unbuckled) he's to lay his neck in the collar and hold still while you buckle it idea.

And if they get that fast then we'll go one step further and have them BRING us the collar!
 
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