Friday, July 16, 2010

"My dog knows..." Part 1

Blaze used to know about 250 behaviors. He could do lots of things. He had verbal cues and hand signals and behaviors that could be combined for cool tricks ("Get it!" with the ball "Up!" on the basketball hoop, and "Drop it!" in the basket).

He was really talented.

But then I learned more about behaviors and cues.

And I realized that he needed lots of prompts and additional cues to complete each of the behaviors. He wasn't as proficient as I had thought and if I stood still or gave just a verbal or visual cue, he wouldn't respond. There were at least 2-3, if not more, cues I needed to give for the behavior to happen. I had to lean over, wave my hand, give the word, and move a step or two. With a toy or treat in my hand.

Today, I would say he only knows about 5-10 behaviors on a single cue. And even then, some of them will deteriorate under pressure.

How many verbal cues (only!) does your dog know? Does s/he know them as well as you think?

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