Monday, February 21, 2011


It is pretty rare that I ask my dogs to do two things at once, and I've realized that it is really difficult for them! Even combining two behaviors that they know is hard. Some of our first multi-tasking experiences involved asking my dogs to hold a dumbbell or other object while performing another task--teaching Lok to grab an object out of the fridge, then turn around to close the door was interesting! Both Lok and Jun would tend to drop the dumbbell before using their paw to shut a door.  Jun had a really hard time with sitting from a stand while holding a dumbbell! I pretty much had to trick her into it the first few times until she realized that she actually could sit with something in her mouth!

Jun is currently learning two multi-tasking behaviors. The first one we've been working on for a couple months--jumping over my leg with a disc in her mouth. That is part one of a two-part trick we're hoping to put into our disc routine this year, and she's finally getting it down! The second part involves releasing the disc into my hand at the top of the jump, and that might take awhile! It would be a lot easier if I could give her a verbal drop cue! We are probably going to do a vault-less freestyle routine this year, so we need to build up some more complex tricks and sequences that do not involve vaulting. I have no idea if this will ever be ready, but it will be cool if it works!

The second multi-tasking behavior is holding up her left paw while targeting my hand with her nose. We've just started working on this the past couple days, and so far she's still putting her paw down to do the nose target most of the time. It's especially hard because my accuracy with the clicker is sucking. I'll think she's gonna hold her foot up, but then she'll put it down right as I click! The idea is that if she learns to hold her foot up while targeting my hand, I can just move my hand further and further away and she will have an automatic limp! I never was successful in teaching Lok to limp more than a couple steps, so we'll see how far I get with Jun. Currently, I am annoyed that no matter what I'm trying to work on I get a paw raise--the downside of being in the middle of shaping behaviors that haven't been put on cue yet.


  1. Oh good, if you find that method for limp works with Jun maybe I'll restart it up for Lance's back leg. I haven't exactly given it up, I just well haven't worked on it :)

    Multi tasking is hard :) Can the dogs do position changes with the db in their mouth already- like sit/down/stand/beg?

  2. I stole the idea from you!! I'll let you know if I get anywhere with it!

    I think they can--or the used to be able to anyway. Sit, stand and beg at least. I'm not sure about down. We worked on that awhile back but haven't done anything with it lately. Seems like once they realize that they CAN do things with a db in their mouth, its pretty easy to add new things. Like tonight I had jun putting things up on the table!

  3. It's nice to see I'm not the only one with a dog who's having trouble multitasking. Rubi's is currently trying to learn to hold the dumb bell and sit. We're also working on carrying a picnic basket to me (pick up the basket, no problem! come to me, no problem! pick up the basket and come to me - wait, what?). Rubi's default behavior when she is't sure what to do with an object is to grab it with her front legs and punt it, despite the fact that I've never once rewarded her for that behavior. So multi-tasking seems to be resulting in a lot of objects flying through the house.

    I seem to remember this being a lot easier with Piper Ann . . .

  4. Haha! That's funny! Jun's default confusion behavior is licking my face! Previously, it was silent-barking at me, but I put that on cue and now she doesn't do it anymore. She's also been known to stomp her foot like a bratty toddler!!

    I never had any trouble getting Lok to sit or walk with a db, but Jun had trouble at first. I had to trick her into sitting by giving her the db, then walking toward her really fast (I think that's what ended up working).

  5. Interesting post! I haven't ever really considered multi-tasking. :)