Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks
Office dog Rudi loves learning and performing new tricks. Rudi certainly isn’t an old dog at just 13 months old, but we wanted to see if we could add to her already huge repertoire and teach an older dog new tricks.
We searched the internet and picked out some of the most impressive and challenging tricks and put Colette and Rudi to the test to see how many they could master.
Mid-air Catch – Whilst looking for tricks, we came across endless hilarious videos of dogs trying and failing to catch items mid-air. Definitely worth a search if you have an hour to spare.
‘This took Rudi a little while to get. I had tried previously with balls and treats, but she would jump and never quite reach them in time. She wasn’t quite understanding it, as even if she didn’t catch the treat, she would still get one as she would reach it before I could.’
We found a tip online suggesting that we try this with popcorn as it’s so light, it takes longer to fall to the ground.
Once we introduced the popcorn, after three attempts she nailed it. The whole house was cheering running around celebrating’ Says Colette.
Cup challenge – When we found videos online of dogs selecting the correct cup out of three with a hidden treat underneath, we were sceptical. The team figured that as the dogs weren’t sniffing out the treats, simply tapping the cups, the videos must have been edited to only show the successful guesses. Well, we were wrong.
‘I had to teach Rudi this trick in three steps. First up she had to learn to tap the cup with her paw to get a treat. To do that I placed a chopping board on the floor with an upturned cup on top. I got Rudi to sit and gave her some time to calm down. Then I placed a treat under the cup and repeatedly lifted the cup to show Rudi the treat. Then I lifted her paw and tapped the cup with it and immediately lifted the cup to let her have the treat. After a few times she picked up the action herself and every time she tapped the cup I let her have the treat. Sometimes she would be so excited she would tap the cup before I could get another treat under there, but I would still place the treat on the board for her rather than give her it by hand as I wanted her attention always on the cup.
Then I introduced the second cup and although I swapped randomly which cup I would put the treat under, I was not yet moving the cups around. It took a lot of lifting the cup and reminding her where the treat was to get her tapping the right cup every time but after a while she realised the way to get the treat was to tap the cup she had seen the treat under.
Then we moved on to swapping the cups around after placing the treat under there. Again, this took a lot of lifting the cup before moving it to remind Rudi where the treat was and to begin with, poor Rudi was really not understanding where her treat had gone. I realised quickly that if I only moved one cup at a time rather than swapping them both at the same time she could follow the treat. We are now onto 3 cups and Rudi is still tracking the treat most of the time!’ Explains Colette.
Bang Bang – This is possibly the easiest of the three tricks. We wanted to teach Rudi how to play dead on command. We hoped that Rudi would learn to fall flat onto her back when someone shouted ‘Bang Bang’ and made a gun motion towards her.
‘This was as simple as saying the command, then physically rolling Rudi on to her back, then rewarding her. After a couple of attempts, she learned that by laying on her back when hearing ‘Bang Bang’ she would be rewarded.
Rudi’s trick list is never ending, it seems that each week she will perform a song and dance the second she hears the office treat draw open. We can’t wait to find out what her next new trick is.
Does your dog have any super skills or tremendous tricks up their sleeves? We would love to see. Join the conversation over on our Facebook page.