For us dogs, this not having opposable thumbs thing is a real pain in the ass. When humans aren’t around to do our bidding we have to be at our most creative. Fortunately, humans like to be around us and they are quite pliable and easy to train using simple effective techniques. With humans around, you never have to lift a paw.
Staring is a particularly effective technique to get your human to produce a variety of useful behaviors. Let’s take a look at one of our favorites, handing out food.
To start the process you need to associate the stare (or cue) with the desired response you are looking for. Simply wait for a human to start eating and then sit directly in front of them and stare. Continue to stare at them until the light bulb goes off in their head and they offer the response of handing out food. If your human is a bit slow in offering a correct response, continue the stare and begin salivating as well. Some may consider this a form of flooding but who cares if it gets the job done! Not having opposable thumbs means you don’t have to mop up the mess.
When using this technique there are some important points to remember.
- When first training this behavior, never break eye contact until you get the correct response. Fortunately for us, “Humans Sense Staring” and seem to be aware of it even when you are staring at their back.
- Humans don’t generalize well and so you need to train this behavior at different places throughout your home. Practice it when they are in the bedroom eating popcorn. Practice it in the kitchen when they are cooking bacon for breakfast. Practice it when they are grilling hot dogs in the back yard.
- Have several short training sessions per day. Anytime your human has food is a good time for a short training session. It won’t take long for them to be conditioned to the point that you will be able to give them the stare even when they don’t have food and they will go get some using those marvelous opposable thumbs.
- Some humans are a bit more eccentric than others and they may attempt to pat you on the head when feeding you. It’s a personal decision whether you wish to allow this behavior, but I warn you that once you let a human start patting you on the head it can be a hard habit to break them of.
- Above all remember that even though they’re just a human, they still deserve our respect. They are fellow mortals trying to make their way in the world and it’s only fair we take the time to train them in the ways of doggie decorum.
If you have any human training questions for us, we are happy to answer. You can leave a comment for us here or e-mail us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gavin, Annie, Tosha, Elbee, and the Humans