Mental Exercises?
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Thread: Mental Exercises?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2007

    DefaultMental Exercises?

    Anyone have any suggestions for mental activities you can do inside?


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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2006

    DefaultRe: Mental Exercises?

    I have a treat ball I used to put Mocha's meal in occasionally she has to roll it around to get all the food out. It did great for keeping her occupied and slowing down her eating.
    Also you can play hide and seek where you hide treats or a kong or whatever around the house (but some place they can get to without destorying anything and let them find them.
    Also just working on general obedience training or teaching them how to put toys away.

  4. #3
    Baloo317's Avatar
    Baloo317 is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2009

    DefaultRe: Mental Exercises?

    Training! Teach tricks, that sort of thing.
    Baloo - 5 year old black lab
    Peanut - 7 year old minpin
    Monster - 3-ish year old frenchie/jack, rescue
    We're Superdogs!

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  6. #4
    kaznalf's Avatar
    kaznalf is offline Senior Member
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    Feb 2009

    DefaultRe: Mental Exercises?

    i do scent work, alfie has an excellent nose! we have a scent cloth and make him pick the right one from a line up or i hide it somewhere in a room and let him search it out. I also hide treats around the back garden.

  7. #5
    brody's Avatar
    brody is offline Senior Member
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    Feb 2009
    ontario canada

    DefaultRe: Mental Exercises?

    Shaping anything requires thinking on both parties parts...

    101 things to do with a box
    backing up

    all kinds of cool shaping things

    “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” H. Keller

  8. #6
    kaytris is offline Senior Member
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    Feb 2009

    DefaultRe: Mental Exercises?

    conrad beat me to it.. shape, shape, shape.

  9. #7
    sarah's Avatar
    sarah is offline Senior Member
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    Feb 2009
    Sydney AUSTRALIA

    DefaultRe: Mental Exercises?

    Quote Originally Posted by kaytris
    conrad beat me to it.. shape, shape, shape.
    what do you mean by shaping?

    we do obedience with Milly inside, puppy pushups etc.... Milly can also shakes hands, roll over, crawl, speak, spin ..... and we play hide and seek and chasings too.... she loves playing chasings... basically I hide behind the corner, she creeps up to where i am and i jump out and say "boo" then i chase her around the room, hide again and we do it all over again. She gets really into it.. butt tucks around the room, play bows to me, barks etc... lots of fun.

    As for the treat ball. Milly worked out in about 2 days how to open the hole with her teeth and get all the treats out in about 10 seconds flat. So the treat ball had a very short lifespan in our house. Instead I get an empty juice/soda bottle, wash it out and put a few pieces of her kibble in it. It's clear so she can SEE the food, the lid is off so she can smell the food and she has to figure out how to get it out. It keeps her occupied for quite a long time.

    Sarah & Milly - Sydney Australia

  10. #8
    kaytris is offline Senior Member
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    Feb 2009

    DefaultRe: Mental Exercises?
    (you don't have to use a box - I usually use something sturdy, like a laundry basket...)

    101 Things to Do with a Box

    This training game is derived from a dolphin research project in which I and others participated, "The creative porpoise: training for novel behavior," published in the Journal of Experimental Analysis of Behavior in 1969. It has become a favorite with dog trainers. It's especially good for "crossover" dogs with a long history of correction-based training, since it encourages mental and physical flexibility and gives the dog courage to try something on its own.

    Step one
    Take an ordinary cardboard box, any size. Cut the sides down to about three inches, and put the box on the floor. Click the dog for looking at the box. Treat. If the dog goes near or past the box, even by accident, click. Next, after you click, toss the treat near or in the box. If the dog steps toward the box to get the treat, click the step and toss another treat. If he steps into the box, great, click again, even if he is eating his previous treats, and offer him another treat in your hand.

    Sometimes you can cook up a lot of "box action" in a hurry, this way: Click for stepping toward or into the box. Alternately toss the treat in the box and hold the treat out in your hand so the dog has to come back to you. If the dog is reluctant to step into the box, and so doesn't eat that treat, it doesn't matter: he knows he got it. If treats accumulate in the box, fine. When he does step into the box, he'll get a jackpot. If you decide to stop the session before that happens, fine. Pick up the treats in the box, and put them away for a later session. Remember, never treat without clicking first, and always click for a reason: for some action of the dog's.

    If you need more behavior to click, you can move yourself to different parts of the room so the box is between you and the dog, increasing the likelihood of steps in the direction of the box. Don't call the dog, don't pat the box, don't chat, don't encourage the dog, and don't "help" him. All of that stuff may just make him more suspicious. Click foot movements toward the box, never mind from how far away, and then treat. If you get in five or six good clicks, for moving in the direction or near or past the box, and then the dog "loses interest" and goes away, fine. You can always play "box" again later. In between sessions, the reinforcements you did get in will do their work for you; each little session will make things livelier the next time.

    You are, after all, teaching your dog new rules to a new game. If you have already trained your dog by conventional methods, the dog may be respecting the general rule, "Wait to be told what to do." So the first rule of this new game, "Do something on your own, and I will click," is a toughie. In that case, the box game is especially valuable, and the first tiny steps are especially exciting—although they would be invisible to an onlooker, and may right now seem invisible to you.

    End the first session with a "click for nothing" and a jackpot consisting of either a handful of treats, or a free grab at the whole bowl. Hmm. That'll get him thinking. The next time that cardboard box comes out, he will be alert to new possibilities. Clicks. Treats. Jackpots. "That cardboard box makes my person behave strangely, but on the whole, I like this new strangeness. Box? Something I can do, myself? With that box?" Those are new ideas, but they will come.

    If your dog is very suspicious, you may need to do the first exercise over again once, or twice, or several times, until he "believes" something a human might phrase thus: "All that is going on here is that the click sound means my person gives me delicious food. And the box is not a trap, the box is a signal that click and treat time is here, if I can just find out how to make my person click."

    Step two
    Whether these things occur in the same session or several sessions later, here are some behaviors to click. Click the dog for stepping in the box; for pushing the box, pawing the box, mouthing the box, smelling the box, dragging the box, picking up the box, thumping the box—in short, for anything the dog does with the box.

    Remember to click WHILE the behavior is going on, not after the dog stops. As soon as you click, the dog will stop, of course, to get his treat. But because the click marked the behavior, the dog will do that behavior again, or some version of it, to try to get you to click again; so you do not lose the behavior by interrupting it with a click.

    You may end up in a wild flurry of box-related behavior. GREAT! Your dog is already learning to problem-solve in a creative way. If you get swamped, and can't decide which thing to click, just jackpot and end the session. Now YOU have something to think about between sessions.

    You may on the other hand get a more methodical, slow, careful testing by the dog: the dog carefully repeats just what was clicked before. One paw in the box, say. Fine: but right away YOU need to become flexible about what you click, or you will end up as a matched pair of behavioral bookends. Paw, click. Paw, click. Paw, click. That is not the way to win this game.

    So, when the dog begins to offer the behavior the same way, repeatedly, withhold your click. He puts the paw out, you wait. Your behavior has changed; the dog's behavior will change too. The dog might keep the paw there longer; fine, that's something new to click. He might pull it out; you could click that, once or twice. He might put the other paw in, too—fine, click that. Now he may try something new.

    And? Where do we go from here? Well, once your dog has discovered that messing around with the box is apparently the point of this game, you will have enough behavior to select from, so that you can now begin to click only for certain behaviors, behaviors that aim toward a plan. It's as if you have a whole box of Scrabble letters, and you are going to start selecting letters that spell a word. This process is part of "shaping."

    Step three
    Variations and final products: What could you shape, from cardboard box behaviors?

    Get in the box and stay there

    Initial behavior: Dog puts paw in box. Click, toss treats. Then don't click, just wait and see. Maybe you'll get two paws in box. Click. Now get four paws in box. Get dog in box. Options: Sitting or lying in box; staying in box until clicked; staying in box until called, then clicked for coming.

    Uses: Put the dog to bed. Put the dog in its crate. Let children amuse themselves and make friends with the dog by clicking the dog for hopping into a box and out again (works with cats, too). One third-grade teacher takes her papillon to school on special events days, in a picnic basket. When the basket is opened, the dog hops out, plays with the children, and then hops back in again.

    Behavior: Carry the box

    Initial behavior: Dog grabs the edge of the box in its teeth and lifts it off the floor.

    Uses: Millions. Carry a box. Carry a basket. Put things away: magazines back on the pile. Toys in the toy box. A dog that has learned the generalized or generic rule, "Lifting things in my mouth is reinforceable," can learn many additional skills.

    Behavior: Tip the box over onto yourself

    I don't know what good this is, but it's not hard to get: it crops up often in the "101 things to do with a box" game. If the dog paws the near edge of the box hard enough, it will flip. My Border terrier, Skookum, discovered that he could tip the living-room wastebasket (wicker, bowl-shaped, empty) over on himself, so that he was hidden inside it. Then he scooted around in there, making the wastebasket move mysteriously across the floor. It was without a doubt the funniest thing any of our dinner guests had ever seen a dog do. Since terriers love being laughed with (but never at), clicks and treats were not necessary to maintain the behavior once he had discovered it—and he learned to wait until he was invited to do it, usually when we had company.


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