I have answered many messages the past days and one that often came up is about Ninja’s training.
Ninja was 2 years old when I got him and I was not certain if he would bind to me as a puppy would.
I know my previous dog Akiak loved me but he also thought I was boring and paid attention to everything but me, once we are outside.
This is when I learnt about positive reinforcement, where you – in a nutshell – reward positive behavior.
I did, for about half of his daily food ration, make tricks with Ninja. He quickly learnt the basics and started offering behavior, when he was uncertain what to do. This way I could step by step teach him new stuff. For example when I taught him to find his leash, I rewarded looking into the direction, then moving, then touching the leash. This way Ninja knew that I wanted him to touch the leash and would go find it to complete the task.
To make myself interesting I dried chicken hearts in a stove and put salmon oil on top of them. For me it was a bit disgusting, but the dogs loved it. They came from everywhere, even passerby dogs that had great obedience dashed off and demanded treats.
So I used really high value treats and rewarded Ninja as soon as he showed any form of attention towards me. When he looked at me, when he stays close he got two rewards. He quickly learnt that it is valuable – and he isn’t a good driven dog – that it pays off to stay near me.
When he was distracted at the end of the tow line I would hide a goodie in treebark, in a tuft of grass, on top of a bench, in a hike and I would do nothing but look at the spot. Ninja wondered what was going on and quickly found out that it is rewarding to come to me, to pay attention to what I pay attention to…
This, daily handfeeding and training for about 2 years… is the basis of what you see here. Ninja enjoys to do these tricks.