Features June 2015 Issue

Lifting Your Dog

Christine has lure-shaped Tito to put his front paws on her leg, and is gradually adding the presence and pressure of her hands under his chest (a step in the direction of lifting him). He wears an ideal, happy, “Where’s my chicken?” expression in anticipation of his reward for his cooperation.


Classical Conditioning

1. Place both hands briefly, gently, on either side of your dog’s spine, and then feed him a treat.

2. Gradually move your hand down and under your dog’s ribcage on the far side, touching and feeding him a treat several times at each step.

3. Gradually move your other hand around the front of your dog’s chest to his opposite shoulder, touching and feeding him several times at each step.

4. Put light pressure on your dog with both hands, gradually hugging him toward you, and then feed him a treat.

5. Gradually increase pressure, feeding him treats several times at each step.

6. Hug your dog against your chest, lifting upward slightly; release and treat.

7. Gradually increase the amount of lift pressure until you are picking him up, giving him a treat several times at each step.

Dog’s choice approach, small dog

1. Shape or lure-shape your dog to go into a carrier on cue.

2. Lift the carrier to transport your dog to the desired location.

3. Treat while carrier is being carried, to offset any negative association with the movement of the carrier.

4. Treat when you place the carrier at the destination, again to maintain a positive association with the moving process.

Another dog’s choice, small to medium-sized dog

1. Shape or lure-shape your dog to jump into your lap when you are seated on the floor. Put the behavior on cue.

2. Make a circle of your arms in your lap so when he jumps into your lap he is jumping into your arms. Practice until the behavior is fluent (happens quickly and easily) and on cue.

3. Kneel, and cue him to jump into your arms. Practice until fluent.

4. Sit in a chair and cue him to jump into your arms. Practice until fluent.

5. Stand and cue him to jump into your arms. Be sure you catch him!

A third dog’s choice, any sized-dog

1. Using a portable ramp or steps made for dogs, shape or lure-shape your dog to walk up the ramp or the steps. Put it on cue.

2. Practice until the behavior is fluent.

3. Use the ramp or steps in place of picking him up when you need him on an elevated surface such as getting into the back of your SUV, or onto the exam table at your veterinarian’s office.

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