Take, Get, and Give

In terms of dog cues (commands, requests, whatever) take and get are a lot alike.

TAKE is that thing I have in my hand, or that person has in their hand, please get it for me
GET is that thing over there, on the floor, table, wherever, please get it for me

And both are rather useless without the GIVE which is that thing you just took/got, please release it.

Quinn is a very excited, energetic, full-on puppy. She is 8 mos now, probably around 65lbs (29.5ish kg). She’s smaller than her brother Ragnar who lives up in Pittsburgh. He is freakin’ huge at around 90lbs (40.8kg). But I’m not worried. Quinn is growing slowly which is good. Her bones and muscles are excellent. She is growing at her rate, Ragnar is growing at his.

Harnessing this energy during training time is…difficult. We worked a long time on TOUCH just to get her bored with it, to keep her from biting everything. She didn’t get treated for mouthing, just touching with her nose. And now I wanted her to take something in her mouth. Yeah, okay. I have an old wooden backscratcher where the “hand” part of it had broken off. The end of it is quite large, perfect as an object to touch, while the rest of it was a thinner dowel. Quinn knew to touch different object already but this was WOOD! Wood was FOOD!

Took us several minutes before she realized she got nothing for grabbing the end with her mouth. But if her nose touched it, she got a good YES and a lot of treats. Soon she was touching it no matter where I held it out. (ensuring the dog will move around to touch an object is a goal to keep in mind) We left it alone for a few days and returned to it. She mouthed it for just a few seconds then was back to touching it. Next day, we started with my hand, the Lollipop, and then the handle. I was asking for 3 touches per treat.

Next I took blue painting tape (dogs can see blue) and wrapped it around the middle of the dowel. We worked on touching my hand, the Lollipop, the handle, and then I turned it sideways, grasping it on either side of the blue tape and held it out. I didn’t say anything. Now this was different. This was not something pointing at her, but was being held out. My hand is like that, but my hand has lots of surface area. She knew we were working on touch but she was really excited about this difference so when she went to touch it, she grabbed it with her open mouth just for a second. JACKPOT! YES! Treat treat treat.

Quinn was confused and for good reason. I’d never allowed her to mouth something before. But now she could? She grabbed it again but harder. I told her to drop and offered it again. No treat. She did grabbed it with her mouth again but quickly. YES! Treat treat treat. We did this several times then stopped. I ended with her following my hand (which she loves to do) as we worked on having her place herself in front of me. She gets treats so she doesn’t care.

Next day, we worked on it again. I built up to it as before, held it out, but again offered no cue word. She took it in her mouth and let go. Treat. Repeated numerous times. Once she was taking it as soon as I offered it, I started adding the cue “take”. I offered it as I said the word, I said the word then offered, etc. She took it in her mouth and got a treat.

A few days later, I added the next step. I didn’t do it until she was calmer and as she took it in her mouth, I let go of it, keeping my hands underneath in case she let go. I then said DROP, which she did. So now I was offering the dowel, saying TAKE, she took, then I said DROP, and she did. Treat treat treat.

Quinn will now take the dowel from one hand and drop it into my other hand. She will also pick it up off the floor should she miss. If she doesn’t drop it in my hand and goes to chew on it instead, I take it away and the training session ends.

The next step is to start using other objects. I need to visit the dollar section of the pharmacy and get some cheap measuring cups, scrub brush, and other such things.

We also need to move her touch from something I am holding to something I am pointing at. I’ve tried but she doesn’t get it. Could be an age thing.