If you like to impress your friends and family, you must add the "peekaboo" command to your dog's repertoire of tricks. When you say "peekaboo," Rover should cover his eyes with his paws as if he were ashamed of himself. This trick can also be used as a cover up in case your dog fails to perform a trick he knows well or does some other "immoral act." You can then say: "Rover! You should be ashamed of yourself!" That "guilty" expression will have your guests laughing.
Items You'll Need:
• High-value treats
• Masking tape
Training Peekaboo Through "Capturing"
Phase #1 - Keep your clicker and treats handy and watch your dog during the day. Some dogs are more predisposed than others to paw their nose and eyes when they groom themselves. You see this happen often when your dog tries to clean his eyes or has an itchy nose. The moment you see your dog perform this behavior, immediately click and give a treat. The training method of rewarding spontaneous behaviors as they unfold is known as "capturing." This training method takes some time and patience.
Phase #2 - Continue watching your dog during the following days and click and treat the moment you see the desired behavior. After capturing the behavior several times, your dog will soon realize that when he touches his nose with his paws covering his eyes, great things happen. This is the power of positive reinforcement training. The addition of the treats is reinforcing the behavior, and consequently, Rover will do it more often.
Phase #3 - Name the behavior. Once you notice your dog is repeating the behavior more often, it's time to give it a name. Say "peekaboo" a split second before he is about to practice the behavior. Click and treat as usual and repeat several times. Next, try saying "peekaboo" before he gives any signs of getting ready to perform the behavior. If he does cover his eyes on command, then make sure you click immediately and give him a handful of small treats all at once. Rover will feel as if he won the lottery.
Training Peekaboo Through Prompting
Phase #1 - Cut out a small piece of masking tape and stick it to your dog's nose. The moment your dog raises his paw and touches his nose to remove the tape, click and immediately treat. This training method is known as "prompting." Basically you are relying on an aid, in this case the masking tape, to help your dog perform a certain behavior. This method is much faster than capturing the behavior from zero and can be helpful for dogs who do not paw at their eyes or nose frequently or in case you want to train the behavior faster.
Phase #2 - Repeat several times, clicking and treating every time your dog paws at his nose to remove the tape. The more your dog practices the behavior, the faster he will realize that the behavior of pawing at the nose and covering his eyes is what you want. Since you are rewarding your dog by adding treats, your dog will be more likely to paw at his nose the moment he feels the tape. At this point, you can start adding the cue "peekaboo" right after your dog feels the tape on his nose. Remember to continue clicking and giving treats. Repeat several times.
Phase #3 - Stop placing the masking tape on your dog's nose, but continue saying "peekaboo." If your dog covers his eyes with his paws, click and immediately deliver a handful of several small treats. Your dog will think he won the jackpot. Repeat several times so your dog learns to rely on your verbal command and no longer needs the masking tape prompt. After some time, you can also fade the clicker and replace it with "good boy," followed by the treat. Once the behavior is fluent, you can just say "good boy" alone and give the treats every once in a while instead of every time.
• Toss the masking tape away to prevent your dog from ingesting it.
• Don't train when you are tired, impatient or getting frustrated.
• Don't make the training session too long or your dog will get tired and lose motivation.
By Adrienne Farricelli
Association of Animal Behavior Professionals: Getting Started with Clicker Training
Whole Dog Journal: Advanced Dog Training Methods: How to Fade Prompts and Lures
The Dog Tricks and Training Workbook: A Step-By-Step Interactive Curriculum; Kyra Sundance
About the Author
Adrienne Farricelli has been writing for magazines, books and online publications since 2005. She specializes in canine topics, previously working for the American Animal Hospital Association and receiving certification from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Her articles have appeared in "USA Today," "The APDT Chronicle of the Dog" and "Every Dog Magazine." She also contributed a chapter in the book " Puppy Socialization - An Insider's Guide to Dog Behavioral Fitness" by Caryl Wolff.