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Discussion Starter #1
Okay - this one is going to be where you teach your dog to discriminate between items based on what you call the item. So you might have a "BALL" and a "FRISBEE" and a "TOY" and a "DISH", etc. The number of items you want to teach is up to you (base it on your amount of time and the training level of your particular dog).

Now, because not all dogs retrieve, the dog can indicate the item in whatever manner you want to teach. He can bring it to you (if he retrieves), he can go to it and touch it with nose or paw, etc. Be consistent with whatever you choose.

THE END RESULT:

When you say the name of the item, the dog goes to that item and either retrieves it or indicates it. At least two other items should be available too so that the dog has to deliberately pick the right one. If you have a dog that is more advanced (or already knows the names of items) then make it more difficult by teaching several items, putting them all in a box where the dog has to actually pull out the correct item, or make the items less visible so the dog has to search for it a bit.

I'm going to try this with Khana, who is my Service Dog. She has been taught to retrieve but I want to add more words into the mix. I'd like her to seek out and bring me my keys and I think I'll do socks too .. *L* .. I can send her to my socks and she'll bring them, but she doesn't know the word for them. With this cold weather it's handy if your dog knows how to find your socks!

Good luck, and looking forward to the discussions! Please, anyone out there who wants to join in, do so! This is not just for dog trainers, it's to encourage everyone to do fun and even helpful training activities with their dogs.

Melanie and the gang in Alaska
 

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How would I go about teaching this? My mind is spinning with all sorts of ideas, but I'm really not sure what the best way would be.

Right now we just say "Oh, you've got your lamb." or "Get the ball" as we're playing. I know that he doesn't know the difference because when I say "get the ball" sometimes he brings the lamb, or the sweet potato, or the . . . .

Kim
 

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Good one, Melanie!

I have taught this for four items: Monkey (stuffed monkey), Jack (stuffed toy shaped like a jack from the game of "jacks"), Black Kong (his smaller black kong), and "Red Kong." Now that I think about it, he also knows the difference between "ball" (any small fetch ball) and "big ball" (any bigger ball like Jolly Balls).

Yesterday we worked on him picking up toys by name and depositing them in a wastebasket and he's catching on QUICK. He knows he has to get the toy in there or near there but he's still trying to get his "aim" down.... boy troubles.
I also managed to break one of our drinking glasses in the process of rewarding him. Go me!


Awhile back I was making progress on getting Renji to pick up dropped laundry.... I have to start that back up.
 

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Oh, this is how I teach it for my dog with a great "fetch drive": I grab a toy, and then I show it to him and just start blabbering the name of the toy. "Renji, Red Kong! Red Kong!" Then I toss it after he's all excited about it. "Go get your Red Kong! Get your Red Kong!" Then he brings it to me all happy and stuff and when I praise I include the name of the toy as well. Then I add a second toy (less favorite) and put the two on the floor and point to the Red Kong, telling him to get his Red Kong while focusing on it. I "oops" him if he goes for the other one. It's not long before he realizes that the toy has an identification just like he himself has. Then I do the same procedure with the other toy.

The real test is putting them next to each other. He still likes to pick up his preferences but I encourage him to get what I specify and he soon complies, then we play games with the toy.
To keep his brain sharp, we involve several toys at once, and when he gets me the proper toy, we play fetch with it as a reward. It's great to give him the request for a toy and see him think for a second, then dash off to hunt down his toy!
 

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Ris is a bit like Renji. She knows the names of some of her toys but will generally pick up the one she wants at the moment. Not necessarily the one I requested.

I'm not 100% sure how we're going to go about training this. Seems every time I think and type out what I'm going to do ahead of time I end up needing to change it.
Either what I thought of doesn't work or, in the process of working with Risa, I come up with something better.

I do like Diana's idea, though, of getting her all revved about the toy.
 

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I tried it with chocolate and peanut butter, but poor Kuno got all confused and wound up getting peanut butter on the chocolate. Turned out, it was a great accident... I thought we had invented a great new taste, until I realized it's been done.
 

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Diana,

That is a fantastic idea.
I spend so much time picking up toys these days. Maybe as we work on this I can teach him to put his own toys away!

Thanks for the training tip too. We'll try to teach him the name of one toy this week. Probably the lamb since it is his all time favorite.
 

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But seriously, it's a good idea. Kuno already knows the name of several of his toys - and things that are not supposed to be his, but he thinks they are. Since he has several balls, I try to give each one a unique name based on some characterisic or something.

Another fun thing to do once they know the name of a toy is to hide it (or just allow them to forget where it is) and tell them to go find it.
 

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I want to get several different colored kongs of the same size and teach Renji their names, then when I have guests over I'll wow them with how he knows how to discriminate by color versus by shape/size. There's the puppy kong, red kong, blue kong, black kong, orange kong.... I think that's a good start!


Now I need a toy box and the trash can... I'm formulating a routine...
 

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Discussion Starter #12
*truly laughing here* .. oh, you guys are so fun! I love reading the posts to this thread so far!

I teach this much the way that Diana does. I have to admit that I've never done any formal teaching of the names of things - I just use the name over and over and do a lot of playing/teasing with the object to encourage the dog to want to get it. Ball and frisbee are really important to my GSDs.

Khana, on the other hand, could care less about toys. Teasing her with them doesn't work. If I tell her to get a toy, she'd rather bring me a dish because I really rewarded "dish" for a long time. So her involvement is a more serious one (in a sense) and I'll do more structured name recognition for the items with her.

Every dog is a new challenge, you know? *L* How I train a dog with Tazer's drives is different in many ways than how I train a dog with Khana's drives (or lack of).

Diana, will LOVE to hear about your routine! The one I did with the stiff leash/collar and the trash can was really popular (I used to do a dog act at the fair every August). People just thought it was hilarious. We did other acts, too, but that one was one of my favorites.

LedZep - too funny about the chocolate/peanut butter! By the way, I was given some chocolate covered peanut butter candy recently that was SO DARN GOOD it put Reese's Cups to shame. It came from Zingerman's. They used dark chocolate (not my favorite) but man oh man, it was one of the best peanut butter bars I've ever tasted.

Melanie and the gang in Alaska
 

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BUMP! How is everyone doing with their item discrimination? We're reinforcing the items and dropping things into the basket, it's going pretty well.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Well, I've been sending Khana for the socks (my first step) and having her find them in more and more difficult places. I want her to have to seek them out so that she really is thinking about what she's looking for (that's my interpretation of it, anyhow .. *L*).

Next I want to put the socks out next to one of the dog dishes, because she really likes to bring me the dog dishes (she's been rewarded for that a LOT over the years). So I want her to work through the temptations of other items while still understanding what "socks" are.

Then we'll work on keys separately. We've already done a bit of this but she really doesn't like picking the keys up. I'm going to add something to the key ring that she can easily grab, since picking up the keys may involve being outdoors when I drop them, and the metal keys in -30 degree weather might stick to her mouth (INSTANT correction).

Anyone else have something to report?

Melanie
 

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Discussion Starter #15
So how's it going with everyone??

Khana is bringing me my sock on the word command now, so I'm pleased with that. I've come to realize that "socks" are not always the same thing, however, and that does cause some confusion. Sometimes they're the black socks I wear with my scuffs. Sometimes they're the fuzzy warm socks that I wear around the place when my toes are cold. Sometimes they're clean, unscented, other times they may be ones I wore a bit already. So for Khana, there are constant changes that do make some difference to her. But she's doing VERY well overall.

I haven't worked her much on the keys - I got wrapped up in something else and it kind of took over my life .. *LOL* .. someone sent me the Twilight series of books (hard back, no less - what a nice gift!) and I started reading them last night. I just finished book three (I read sickeningly fast when I'm really into something).

Now I want a vampire of my own. I NEED a little adventure in my life! *LOL*

Melanie and the gang in Alaska
 

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Well, it didn't go quite as well as I hoped. Jake's had a rough week. It is hard being 12 weeks old. There are just so many things to do and explore and chew and sniff . . .

I think he knows the difference between his kong and his bone. If I ask him to find the bone he'll look around, find it, and then put it on his bed. Why? I have no idea! I've been thinking and thinking about why he might do that, but can't come with a reason.

And I had no luck teaching him to clean up his toys. I would name the toy put it in his tub, turn around to get the next, and find Jake in the tub removing the toy. Ah . . . maybe when he's older.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
*LOL* .. Jake has the BEST excuse of anyone - he's a baby! Tazer is still trying that excuse and she's 19 months old (and the adult dogs are starting to tell her that she's not allowed the puppy excuse anymore).

Cleaning up toys is a pretty advanced behavior. You have to chain together several behaviors, actually. He has to recognize the name of the item, go to the item, pick it up and carry it, take it to a designated spot and release it. That's a LOT to ask for an adult dog, let alone a pup. So it may be best to wait until he's more grown to work on that. But you can always work on the little bits of the behaviors (like you are). He can be learning the various names of his toys, can be learning to carry them and hold them for you, etc.

I've just recently gotten my chow really enthusiastic about bringing all the toys to me (I sit by the toy box and drop them in). She will hunt through the shop to find another toy (and sometimes, if a toy isn't available, will bring me a leash or whatever else she can find .. *L*). At first it was kind of a chore to her, as a relatively non-retrieving dog, but now she jumps in with enthusiasm and is really having fun with it. She'd already worked into that enthusiasm with retrieving the dog dishes and would sometimes bring me one unasked. She works well with rewards and she truly loves to please me, which is quite something given her breed.

We did work on the keys tonight and she was racing to bring them to me, so I was very pleased with that.

She's in heat right now. I've never had it truly affect her so I don't anticipate any changes, but it will be interesting to see if she acts any differently during the training. Right now she is at my feet, as always. She doesn't allow me more than about six inches from her.

Melanie and the gang in Alaska
 

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I've been slacking off on this one.
I'm on another training board where we've been issued a challenge (training our dog to nod in a week) and I've been focusing what time I have on that. Sorry! I will get back to this one eventually. Probably after I've finished up the head-nodding behavior.
 

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Melanie,

I've started making a list of these training challenges. I'm also writing down the break down steps to teaching each behavior. You all are tremendously helpful in that! I'm learning to picture what I want and all the steps to get there.

Jake really likes learning. So far it is all one big game to him. He sure keeps me on my toes!

So . . . what's next?
 
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