Feb 3, 2008

It's the little things that make you smile...

Poor Ryan has been having a semi-crappy week at work. Today, he is working 12 hours. I've been wracking my head trying to think of something I can do to make him smile. And then it hit me...teach Gino how to give a "Hi-Five."

You see, the dogs giving Ryan a hi-five brings an instant smile to Ryan's face. I don't know if it's the anthropomorphism behind the cute little trick, but the dogs giving him a round of hi-gives is an instant spirit lifter for Ryan. Bruno and Vinnie know how, but unfortunately not Gino. If you give him your palm and ask for a hi-five, he'll automatically down. I guess I haven't made it a priority. :)

Today I decide we would learn this trick and have it down pat before Ryan gets home. Then we could surprise him with it. Only Gino was not having it.

"I do not perform for dog treats."

"You say you have cheese?
Ok, well, now we're talking! Whaddya want me to do?"

Figures. I started off trying to lure him to offer me his paw. That didn't work. Then I moved onto talking frantically. "Give me your paw...give me your paw...come on...your paw!"

Then I slapped myself. I am my worst nightmare: the person who won't shut up or stop confusing the dog with a lure.

I decided to be patient. I just sat there on the floor waiting for him to offer me any behavior that even remotely resembled him offering me his paw. I sat there for 18 minutes before he lifted his paw just one inch off the floor. I rewarded. Rinse and repeat...

And finally, the little wheels in his head clicked. He began to paw at my hand. Then ultimately, he offered me a hi-five. Success!

"So...all I have to do is this and you give me cheese?

Now he's a hi-five offering fool! He's walking around the house offering me hi-fives every time I look at him!

Free-shaping is like playing the game Hot/Cold. When a dog is engaged trying to figure out how to get into the "Hot" zone, he stays with you longer. The hard part about it staying patient and having your timing down pat. Yes, it takes a lot longer, but what the dog learns ends up staying firmly in his brain.

Tonight, we are all set to elicit some smiles!


  1. Yay!!! That made my heart happy!!! What a smart little man!

  2. yay Gino! I want Buzz to learn to wave, you've inspired me to get out the clicker and try again!

  3. Woo Hoo, Gino! Gimme a hi five...down low...you know :)

  4. Gino is a star!!!
    What a great kid he is. Now we want to know if it did get the smiles!!!


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