Teaching One Dog to Teach the Other

Teaching your dog tricks or obedience type behavior is really not that hard. With the exception of teaching Lexi to bark, I think most every new behavior/trick takes 3-5 days of repetition. Yes, all dogs are different, and your results will most likely vary, but that’s what I see.

Unless you have two dogs. Teach only ONE of your dogs something and see how long it takes the other one to ‘get it’.

One example: If you’ve followed for a while, we’ve had Lexi for a while and have taught her to ring a bell when she needs to go out. (*No, I’ve still not got Lexi to bark on command. More on this in a moment; I have a new plan…)  This is NOT a natural thing for a dog to do. So after several days, Lexi did get to ring the bell using her nose. And we’ve reinforced the habit by asking her to ring it to “go potty” when we take her out before bed, going away, etc. This was before we got Murphy, our Golden Retriever, we’ve now had for a week.

So sometime during the week, I decided that I should probably teach Murphy to ring the bell too. He wanted no part of it. Okay, to be fair, Murphy didn’t like his nose being directed towards a strange object that makes noise any more than Lexi did. So, long story short, I taught Murphy the behavior once, MAYBE twice.

But as we let out Lexi, Murphy observes the behavior. Next day my son says (we were gone most of the evening and he works afternoons), “When did you guys teach Murphy to ring the bell?” Yup. Less than two days of watching, Lexi taught Murphy to ring the bell.

Another; Murphy LOVES to chase/bring back a racquetball. When he brings it back, he drops it at your feet… sorta. He drops it and immediately steps on it, but pushes really hard on the ball, then pulls back on his paw making the ball bounce up a couple inches. Then he catches the ball in his mouth. This is a behavior he taught himself. Oh yeah, and Lexi, watching him return the ball, thought that looked pretty cool and started doing it on her own when she fetches.

So my next scheme for getting Lexi to bark on command… Murphy is a more natural barker/house guard dog. Mostly silent, but barks on any sound he doesn’t like/know. I’m pretty certain a couple days of work will have Murphy barking on hand signal. We’ll see. Then we’ll see how quickly Lexi observes/learns. Stay tuned.

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