Friday, February 12, 2010

Ears Up!

When I take pictures of Beth this is what I typically get

"The camera is going to eat me"

"Are we done yet?"


"If I am not looking at you, you don't exist"


"What now?  A frigging scarf?  Really?"

"Lady, your life is too small"

"This is humiliating."

"For the love of doG, when will this be over?"

"And you wondered why I chewed up Mr Bear?"

"Ha! I fooled all you people!  You thought it was Bonnie!" 

"So I chewed up a collectors edition mohair bear.  Shouldnt have left it where I could get it huh?"

*Headdesk*  Serves me right for leaving it on the floor.  Moving on...

The camera is a torturefest for Beth.  So I try things like balancing a stuffed sheep on my head.

It is hard to take a picture with a stuffed sheep on your head.

Its all about the sheep....when the sheep falls, it is trouble in Camera City. Tug-fest ensues. 

Because we know, it is ALL about the sheep.  Baaaa!

When the sheep is around it is IMPOSSIBLE to take pictures.  Because she barks & howls.  Beth is very vocal. 

She talks...and talks

She is completely focused on the sheep.

So, I put the sheep away.  Sad Beth returns. 

We needed to try something different.  I thought about my favorite pictures of Beth.  In all of them she had ears up.  She was alert and happy.  She is not happy when the camera comes out.  We need to change that.

Over the past several days I have been on a campaign to help Beth associate the camera with good things.  Treats and more treats.  When she looks at the camera, click/treat.   Over a couple of sessions I got her to start looking much more animated and relaxed.

Then I thought of her ears. Why not shape a behavior.  Wouldn't it be cool if I could get Beth to put her ears up on command? 

So I grabbed the handy dandy clicker and got to work.  I started by getting Beth's attention, then sat and waited.  She started offering behaviors.  She sat, downed, pawed my hand, targeted my knee, my head, my feet.  When she put her ears up CLICK,/TREAT.  Every single time she put her ears up...CLICK/TREAT.  It didnt matter if she was sitting, down, walking around - if those ears went up CLICK/TREAT.  Over and over again. 

It didn't take long until she started associating the ears with the CLICK/TREAT.  Then slowly I added the command "ears" when she would pop the ears up.

Below is a video I did by balancing the camera on the couch of our second 'ears' session.  I am sorry the focus isn't perfect, but you can get the idea.  Beth will prick her ears up when I say "Ears".  WOOHOO!   I am now working on generalizing the behavior, doing it in different rooms, different positions, different situations and with the camera. 

Makes all the difference in the world don't you think?

Happy Beth, happy Mom.  


The Thundering Herd said...

Beth - Stormy of the Army of Four teaches us not to cooperate for the camera. We think you have listened well.

WannabeVirginia W. said...

I am no dog trainer but I would think that would be the quickest way to have a fat Beth. No?

Ears Up during photo vs. fat beth...Jus sayin!

BCxFour said...

LOL Thundering Herd!

WannabeVirginiaW - I feed Beth Charlie Bears - low calorie treats. I also use their regular meal kibble for training in place of their bowls - so we don't get a fat Beth. She is already gaining a wee bit of weight since she has been on crate/house rest.

Amy said...

Awesome job, way to go! Clicker trainign is so amazing isn't it? A lovely way to communicate what we are rewarding!

Emma Rose said...

I think we will have to try that! I love Beth's little face. She is so lovely.

Debra Kay said...


WannabeVirginia W. said...

P.S. She is beautiful, nonetheless.

Sweetpea said...

Marvelous video, I really really learned a lot! My fur gal has the same ear **issues** and definitely does NOT like the camera. But I am going to try and teach her, using your clicker method...what FUN!!! Thanks a lot for this post.

Monique said...

Ah yes, the soul-stealing one-eyed monster... Have had to do the same with Lucy. Although if I put the cat on a sit-stay behind me that works too...

Lean said...

HIHIHI lots of ear work Beth well done.
have a nice weekend,Misty.

julie said...

Wonderful! I have taught my dogs to yawn, sneeze, lick their lips, wag or not wag their tails with the clicker, but it never occurred to me I could do something with the ears. :)

Lynn said...

My husband says I'm "food motivated". He better not get a clicker!

Pat A said...

Wow is she cute in the last pix.
Anika is much like that with a camera. Dyna loves to be a ham for the camera, Trax says show me a ball and I will do anything. Cassie ignores it, and Tigg will only herd the other dogs if a human is present. Alone he will sit nicely with one ear up and one down.

PoochesForPeace said...

Oh my gosh, she's the perpetrator!!

Samantha ~ Holly and Zac ~ said...

Beth does look a lot happier on the last photo with her ears up. It also looks like she really enjoyed her ears up training.

Cute video! :)

Emma Rose said...

I just popped in to wish you a Happy Valentines day and saw the new header. Wonderful! Love it!

Lacey said...

I love it when she talks. She's just TOO darn cute.