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Training for “Bone Heads”

Have you ever found yourself saying, “My dog could never do that, she’s just too …” If you haven’t done it yourself, you’ve heard someone make a similar statement making an excuse for why their dog can’t be taught to perform a certain task. That statement is almost always untrue, even for a “Bone Head” like my beloved Holli, the brindle-colored 2-year-old Mastiff/Presa Canario mix in the picture.

Holli is a very high energy, fun, and extremely loving dog, but I sometimes joke that she hasn’t quite grown into her brain yet. In just the past 3 months, I’ve witnessed her running head first into the sliding glass door on her way back inside. That being said, there is still hope for training even the biggest klutz to perform the trick seen in the picture. All that’s required are a little time and lots of treats.

Start by having your dog sit, and get her attention with the treat. Place the treat flat in your palm and lower the treat to around nose level about a foot away and tell her to “Wait.” If she leans her nose forward to get to the treat use your free hand to nudge her nose back away from the treat while repeating the command “Wait” each time. If she doesn’t remain sitting, take the treat away and start the process over. Once she has sat still without attempting to get the treat for about 3 seconds, tell her “OK” and give her the treat. Repeat this until you no longer need to use your free hand to correct her.

Now that she has that part down, you’re ready for the grand finale. Have your dog sit again, and tell her to “Wait.” Gently position her nose so it is flat enough to balance the treat on her nose. Repeat the “Wait” command each time you reposition her nose or she attempts to move. Once you have the treat balanced, slowly remove your hands while repeating the “Wait” command. Start by waiting about 2 seconds before giving the “OK” command, and increase the length of time you ask her to wait as she begins to catch on. If you dedicate 20 minutes a day for a week, you’ll be surprised how quickly she will master the trick, and just how long she is willing to sit like a statue with a treat on her nose.

With a little patience and a whole lot of bribery, any “Bone Head” can learn a few tricks that would make any owner proud.

Craig Picken
Technical Services Analyst

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