It’s Training Tuesday so train your dog to be a Skateboarding Trick Dog like Bella.
I want to teach my dog Kilo the Pug to skateboard. This week, founder and head trainer of In Dogs We Trust, Melissa Millett shares with Talent Hounds how she trained her award-winning skateboarding trick Boston Terrier Bella.
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Melissa began her career training in competitive obedience as a hobby with her own dog in 1998 and immediately developed a lifelong passion. Since then, Melissa has taught hundreds of obedience classes and training workshops for professionals in the pet industry. She has also appeared on Talent Hounds and other TV series and performs live regularly.
Through using smart positive training methods, Melissa has become a renowned dog trainer. This week she introduces us to the “god father of animal training” and shares how she trained her own dog to skateboard!
“Experienced and successful animal trainers follow a series of rules or ‘laws’ that were laid out by experts who have carved the path before us. The god father of animal training, Bob Bailey is the guru that I look to. Bailey has trained thousands and thousands of animals of all species, including some incredible feats for the US Navy/CIA. Dolphins locating targets many miles from handlers at sea or Spy Ravens carrying cameras to sky scraper windows to take pictures of the enemy.
One of my favourite ‘laws’ outlined by Bailey is to ensure ‘errorless learning’ while teaching a new behaviour. Continually setting a dog up to fail causes him to be frustrated in his training. So set up for success instead!
When teaching your dog to ride a skateboard, this is absolutely true. A skateboard may be too difficult or scary for your dog to start with, so try a large square board on the ground and work your way to a skateboard.”
Bella, Melissa’s adorable Boston Terrier trickster- photo courtesy of Sherry Lemcke
2 Easy Ways to Teach Your Dog to Skateboard – Luring and Shaping
There are two ways of teaching the trick:
1) Luring– You can try luring the dog by having him or her follow a treat like I do with food motivated Kilo the Pug.
Place a board (or skateboard) on the floor and then grab a treat and use the “paw” command which we teach here and their love of treats to lure them on.
Reward from the first paw until they get all four paws. Then progress to a moving skateboard as below.
2) Free shaping is a more advanced way of teaching, and yields better results.
With free shaping you teach your dog to play a hot/cold guessing game. Don’t tell the dog what to do, wait until he or she guesses.
When he or she looks at the board, mark the behavior with a click or verbal marker “yes!” and reward with a treat. When they step on it with one paw, click/ treat. Step on it with two paws, click/treat.
Each treat is a clue that he or she in the case of Bella is getting closer. When she performs the final behavior (all four paws on the board) she is rewarded with a jackpot, 4 treats!
Bella’s a Pro! Photo courtesy of Sherry Lemcke
Free shaping is beneficial because it allows and teaches your dog to think about their own behavior without a treat lure. Animal training gurus like Bob Bailey use free shaping to teach.
Once you have lured or free shaped your dog onto a larger board, follow these steps below to work your way up to a skateboarding dog!
Follow Melissa’s easy Training plan for a skateboarding dog:
1. Four paws on a large board
2. Four paws on a smaller board
3. Four paws on a skate board without movement
4. Four paws on a skateboard and add movement
5. Have the dog wait and leap onto the board to propel it herself.
Each step can take a day, or even a week or more. It all depends on your dog! When you are wondering when to increase difficulty you can look to another law of shaping. You must have an 80% success rate before raising criteria. If you make it harder when your dog is not correct at least 80% of the time, you are building on confusion. This is the largest mistake of new trainers. Take the time to train it right!
Another Talent Hounds star Snuggles shows how he rides at his audition- so handsome and talented – seems his breed are very good like Tillman the famous surfer and skateboarder.
For more expert training tips from Melissa check out past Talent Hounds Training Tuesday blog, “How to Train Your Dog with Melissa Millett” HERE