It is never too late to teach an old dog new tricks. I firmly believe this, having adopted many older rescue dogs over the years and trained them to behave as I wish, in only a few months.
Little Monkey, on the other hand, may be an exception to the rule!
I realise she is not the brightest of dogs (she has other good attributes) but I thought I’d have a go at teaching her a new trick, totally different to anything she has ever done before.
She can do the sits, downs, recalls and stays no problem. This time I thought I’d try a little “Search and Rescue”. That is, search for a treat under an empty yoghurt pot and rescue it; by eating it!
I eat a mini yoghurt most days (so there is no shortage of pots available) and give the almost empty container to Little Monkey, who I have trained to take gently from me and go straight outside to lick.
You can see from the photo above, that not only is this finger-licking good, but also face-licking good!
So to the teaching of a new trick:
I sat Little Monkey down in the shade, showed her a dog biscuit and let her watch as I placed a piece under two yoghurt pots a metre or so apart.
I walked away a little then said, “Fetch!”
LM ran straight to me and sat down, looking expectantly for her treat.
I said, “Fetch!” again, pointing to the yoghurt pot. She looked at my hand, then at the ground by my feet. After pointing a few times, closer and then directly at the pot, almost touching it, she finally went there to sniff the ground, overturning the pot almost by accident and retrieving her treat.
I tried with the second treat . . . And we went through the whole procedure again!
I did this three times in total and each time she came to me first for her treat, though she did get quicker at finding them under the yoghurt pots. She still did this by scent though, by sniffing near the pot and by continuing to do so, managing to tip over the pot and reveal the treat. My plan would be to have several pots with a treat in only one pot eventually.
I didn’t quite get the response I was hoping for (I think my old boy Mr Spaghetti Legs would have been quicker on the uptake!) but LM had lots of fun. It is food after all! And I am sure that with regular repetition (a 1000 times usually works for her!) she will understand and go straight for the pots.
But this is going to take some time!