a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Get the Leo!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Get the Leo!

 SUMMARY: Useful tricks.
I'm liking this "get it" thing. The more things I think to teach my dog to get, the more their little furminds grok the concept of "woman want me bring sumthing. me find something bring."

This is not too hard for Boost, but challenging for Tika who really gets the concept of picking something up but tends to drop it immediately and come to me for a reward. Getting it to me might take several iterations of pick it up, drop it one foot closer, pick it up, drop it one foot closer, etc.

Boost does "get the newspaper" every morning and she hardly ever stops to tear the plastic bag apart in the driveway anymore, except saturday when there were free samples of Honey Fiber Oat Sugar Pretend Healthy Cereal and a granola bar entombed in the bag as well. I had to go out and stand two inches from the paper and say "get the newspaper!" which was a lot more work than just getting it myself, but it was an entertaining situation and not actually raining at that moment, so it was OK.

"Get the xxxx" comes in useful when a dog-related entertainment product ("toy") needs to be retrieved from wayyyy under a table so I can vacuum.

They both "get your dish!" at mealtime most meals these days. The usual routine is (and all of this takes about 20 seconds combined and is mostly going on simultaneously):
  1. Boost runs into the kitchen where the dishes [usually] are. 
  2. Tika runs into the kitchen. 
  3. Boost gets excited watching Tika grab a dish,  and runs out to the deck where I'm waiting, to be able to watch Tika come through the door.
  4. Tika brings her dish to the other side of the doggie door, drops it, and comes out without it. 
  5. Meanwhile I tell Boost "get your dish!" again, and she barks once, runs into the kitchen, gets her dish, and either (a) brings it to the doggie door, drops it, hops through, and sticks her head back through to get it, (b) brings it through the doggie door and drops it at a full run so it rolls or bounces off somewhere random, or (c) brings it right to me, drops it at my feet, and if I don't IMMEDIATELY THIS MINUTE pick it up and fill it with food, she immediately picks it up and throws it at my feet, loudly. 
  6. Meanwhile, I've been telling Tika again, "Get your dish!", and she whines and yelps and spins and goes through the dog door and back out and then when i tell her AGAIn, she goes in, runs into the kitchen (but the bowl isn't there because she dropped it by the dog door), she runs back out, where I tell her for the 12th time, "TEEEEEka, GET. YOUR. DISH!"
  7. Whereupon Boost thinks, "oh,  fer cryin'... gah..." leaps through the dog door, grabs Tika's dish,  brings it out, throws it at my feet, and Tika grabs it, drops it immediately back at my feet, and looks at the food bin expectantly, mission having been accomplished as requested.
Sometimes actually everyone does everything right the first time, with only a little bit of yapping and spinning and "GET YOUR DISH" repeatology.

Anyway, then  I often, using the food from the dishes, fill up their Buster Cubes or their Leos. (Turquoise and blue tubular things center bottom:)

Leos are quieter than Buster Cubes, so I mostly use them now.

There's a routine to this, too:
  1. I say to the dogs, "Oooh, a Leo!" and like that, several times while filling them. 
  2. Tika gets her Leo in the dining room where the floor heater vent is covered to prevent food from dropping into the ductwork and the dogs pawing at the heater vent for the next 2 months. I say, "Here's your Leo!"
  3. Boost gets hers in the office. I say, "Here's Boost's Leo!" All of this verbiage is to try to put a name to the object.
  4. When Tika's stops rapidly dispensing treats, she takes it out to the back lawn, finishes it, and leaves it there.
  5. Boost leaves hers wherever it was in the office when she got the last bits out.
Sometimes they vanish. I also bought a purple one later "as an emergency backup" (but really because it was purple).  So one day last week I couldn't find the blue one. This should not be so hard; the office is not  that big and it's downstairs from the rest of the house, so it's not likely to roll upstairs. Sure, there are a couple of boxes and furnitures, but I looked everywhere. The renter even came down and helped me look. Nowhere to be found.

So I used the purple emergency backup Leo. That worked for a couple of days, then the next time I went looking for it, there was the blue one in the middle of the floor but the purple one was nowhere to be found. (And believe me, I looked, as it was now obvious that it had to be here SOMEWHERE nearby.) Nothing.

The next day I came looking, and the blue AND purple ones were lying in the middle of the floor.

But that's not what I came here to tell you about.

This morning it was literally freezing outside at breakfast time. I was still in my bathrobe. Yard is still wet from last week's rain. Tika's turquoise Leo is sitting out in the middle of the back lawn. We have already achieved "Get your dish!" with a minimum of brouhaha. So, what the heck, I grab Tika's collar, point her at the deck stairs, and say "Get the Leo!" She runs down the stairs, looks around (there were no other dog-related entertainment products in sight, which helped),  spies the Leo in the lawn, run to it, grabs it, and brings it all the way back up to me without dropping it or being reminded even once!

That is SO COOL!

Now if only they were ready for the "get my AT&T Uverse network password which I put somewhere safe last month, but not sure where that might be! GET IT!"


  1. Maybe you could get food-motivated Tika to start returning things all the way back by using more food-containing toys for Get It training. Maybe once she gets the hang of getting those all the way back you could work on the others. Just a tho't...

  2. Oh, food-containing toy? Not likely to even COME back. (You're talking to 9 years of experience here. :-) )

  3. LOL! Comes in very handy. Now I have to teach Gracie, because she can bring bigger things like boots :)

    I had trouble with JoJo bringing, when I started. He would pick up and drop, wait for the treat. So I started where he picked up the toy and then ran with him to the basket, he started bringing it with him. Then I gradually decreased my distance to the basket, whereas his distance was the same. Saw Zak George do that on a TV program, worked great for JoJo.

    I am loving the fetch and bring stuff now too :)

  4. I have a Leo too (didn't know that's what they're called) - hot pink. And I spent several minutes today vacuuming up kibble from the vents :-)

    So cool when a "trick" comes in handy in real life! Better get to work on that password one...

  5. Named in honor of Leonardo da Vinci. The purple one is actually branded Kong and is proportioned differently,although it still says Canine Genius on it--apparently they've licensed a look-alike!

  6. Also I found a nice-looking rectangular wire storage basket that fits perfectly over the register, so air gets through but kibble doesn't. Mine is black and has much smaller holes, but, you know, something like this: http://www.amazon.com/CD-Storage-Basket-Capacity-Chrome/dp/B000OWX74U

  7. Woops I lied, I don't have a Leo -- just checked and mine says "Kong" (but no "Canine Genius").

    Brilliant idea for the register problem! I will keep my eyes open for something similar.

  8. Just checked--my purple one says only Kong, too. But the packaging definitely said Canine Genius. Interesting.