Push any Object

During the previous Push tricks, we have been working with the same object, a plastic lid. By introducing new objects to your dog, it is now time to start generalising the Push to any object. This is another step to make sure your dog has really understood the behaviour.

In the next couple of videos, we will discuss and demonstrate introducing some new objects to Mozzie. The type of object you can use for this stage is only limited by your imagination.

When you start with a new object, reward on or next to the object to give value for this new object.

In the first video you will notice Mozzie struggling with the new object, especially when it is placed away from both Emily and the food. This shows how important it is that as soon as your dog is more confident with the trick to start to change your position. Your dog must learn to dissociate your position from the behaviour. Mozzie was not confident yet with the new objects to be able for Emily to move away from the object.

In the next video, we are using a wooden spoon. We start by tilting the spoon low on the ground, for Mozzie this makes the spoon very similar to the lid. As Emily gradually raises the spoon and you will notice how Mozzie struggles more with it targeting it.

Push – Separate the reward from the object

When your dog pushes down on the target (a plastic lid in our case) on the floor you have been rewarding your dog in the Lid. Even when you were sending your dog to the Lid from a distance, the reward was still presented in the lid. This was to give a strong value for the lid.

Now that your dog has a strong value for pushing the lid, the next step is to start to reward anywhere. To achieve this, you are going to begin varying where you give your dog the reward after it has pushed on the lid. 

Additionally, you are going to start positioning yourself anywhere in relation to your dog and the lid. Your dog needs to understand that it has to Push the lid irrespective of where you are located. If it does not, your dog will only learn to offer the trick when facing you, as this is the position you are commonly in when starting to teach a trick.

For your dog to understand to dissociate your position from the lid you will be following the steps below:

  • Reward sometimes in the lid, but importantly also reward anywhere else by throwing a treat for your dog.
  • Reward anywhere, means anywhere. Make sure that you reward in front, behind and either side of your dog at varying distances. Your dog needs to proactively go back towards the Lid to push it
  • Do not be predictable about where you are rewarding your dog. The idea is that your dog does not know where it will receive the treat each time it does the trick.
  • Move around; change your position relative to the Lid. When you can reward anywhere this is also much easier to do
  • Do not stand too close to the Lid. If you do, your dog will associate that since you are near to the object you are also part of the trick. You need to start learning to trust your dog and get it to work over larger distances.
  • Occasionally you will still need to reward in the lid. This is to maintain a high value for the Lid. If you do not, you will notice that gradually your dog will not push as actively in the pot. This is because your dog will start anticipating the reward and is prepared to take a short cut to get to it.

I like testing my dog by sending him away to the pot so he cannot see me and rewarding even further away so he is learning not to turn back to me to claim his treat.

If you are able to progress quickly with this trick, start pushing the distances that you can do it over. How far away from the lid can you be located and still be successful?