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Sunday morning I sat down with one cup of puppy food, the clicker, and Sid. We still do a lot of work on pretty random stuff as Sid and I get into the groove of training together, so we worked on picking up his tuggy bumper for a while and then when he got bored with that, I asked him to target my hands. A fist means “target with a paw,” my open, empty palm means “target with your nose.” I offered him my fist and he took it gently in his ginormous maw. Whoops. Another try and I got the paw target I wanted, but thought that getting him to gently take my hand would be a cute trick, so I set to work shaping it by offering him the back of my open hand.

Success! He now knows five hand signals, for “sit” and “down” as well as paw-target, nose-target, and mouth-target. And then I realized that people meeting a new dog who have been allowed to pet him often offer the backs of their hands for the dog to sniff first, and Sid is going to be a very large black German Shepherd who is going to see this as an invitation to take the person’s hand in his mouth. People are often nervy about this kind of thing. Whoops.

It seems I have inadvertently booby-trapped my puppy, and now I need a different hand cue for “hold my hand” so that he doesn’t wind up frightening anyone.

2 thoughts on “Whoops.

  1. Poor pup! I ever so slightly booby trapped Honey, one of my Corsos, by teaching him that he gets petted when he sits and puts his paw up on my knee. Now when he meets new people, he immediately sits and paws them with his massive paws. A few people have been alarmed- Honey is a huge black male Corso with badly mutilated ears- he doesn’t look like the gentle beast he is.

    But a word of caution to Schutzhund homes who train puppies with jute tugs! Some of those puppies, like Vic, might decide that when your friend pops a dish towel that means TUG GAMES! And start his happy alarm barking and charge towards her. She might be your least dog-savvy friend, and be very scared, even when he outs immediately.

    We have to be careful with things that we think are cute, but other people will see as “The enormous beast lunged right towards me with teeth as big as your arm and it also breathed fire.”

  2. Remember, that he is going to be a Service Dog. Start getting used to saying he is working. I honestly say it is easy to start to do this from the beginning. Ask Christine, how at times, the questions and comments, get old really quick. I always try to be positive but sometimes disability wins. You have to be very clear the people you choose to approach him and how. Munch actually has a visit command. Besides a GSD does not need to sniff a person’s hand. They can already what this person is about. I don’t think you have set him up wrong. Do what works for you. My hand signals are what is easy for me. I finger point to the floor is a down for me. Why because if I am conversing with someone and don’t want to tell him down, I can point and not interupt my conversation. All in all, you have to remember how interested would people be in petting your cane! happy training.

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