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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Community > Blogs > Can You Teach Your Dog To Read

Can you teach your dog to read?

December 22, 2009 -

I am a firm believer that the responsibility for learning falls on the teacher’s shoulders.  As a dog trainer, this means that if the dog does not understand, it is the handler’s fault.  If, as an instructor, my students do not understand, it is my fault. So you can imagine my joy when my students not only “get it”, but take off and run with it.  This happened just the other day and I thought I’d share…

I am a firm believer that the responsibility for learning falls on the teacher’s shoulders.  As a dog trainer, this means that if the dog does not understand, it is the handler’s fault.  If, as an instructor, my students do not understand, it is my fault. So you can imagine my joy when my students not only “get it”, but take off and run with it.  This happened just the other day and I thought I’d share…

I have a lovely lady that has taken all the classes that PetSmart has to offer with me and even some private lessons because she, and her dog, love puppy school!  She’s quite competitive and no matter what I challenged her with, she would come back the following week meeting or exceeding my expectations.  I used to tease her that she must be putting poor Charlie through boot camp at home…  Well, she hasn’t been in classes for a while, but she emailed me recently to ask about teaching Charlie to read flashcards. 

Now, here’s the best part as far as I’m concerned:  I gave her a short paragraph of instructions (maybe 4-5 sentences) and SHE DID IT!! With no additional help from me!  That means that she knows the concepts of training (not just the specifics) and with that can teach her dog anything.  I mean… he’s a Chihuahua that reads for Pete’s sake.  While she put in the hard work, I wouldn’t want to take anything away from Charlie, because he’s a smart little pup.  So smart in fact, that he can say his prayers, drop dead, and dance… all based on which flashcard is held up. 

I love that, as many tricks as Charlie knows, she wants to teach him more and he wants to learn more! Using positive reinforcement Charlie has learned that he can try things and offer behaviors and won’t get in trouble for making a mistake.  This “safe” learning environment for him opens up a world of tricks for a creative handler.  After all, this student is the one that inspired me to teach Bella-the-wonder-pug how to do CPR!!  Maybe I’m a little competitive too…

 P.S.  For those of you that care more about teaching your dog to read than you do about my joy over a student’s accomplishment, this is for you:

  • Start with 3 behaviors and put them on a verbal only cue and make sure they are reliable.
  • Make up your flashcards.
  • Present the flashcard, wait 1 second, give the verbal cue, and click/treat when the dog does the behavior.
  • Work on all 3 tricks and flashcards in each session and in random order.
  • Eventually the dog will do the behavior on the presentation of the flashcard without you giving the verbal cue.

 

 

 

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Comments

14 Feb 2010 3:44 pm

lovepets4ever said:

I think that the commond dog can read but willl neeed some traning

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