Thursday, July 2, 2009

Step 3: Teaching a dog to play pool

OK, so now you’ve got your dog pushing around pool balls on the floor.
It’s time to move it up to the pool table.
Because Sensi is a big dog, he had no problem keeping his rear legs on the ground and holding himself up to the pool table by putting his front two paws on it.
For small dogs, you may want to just pick them up and put them on the table.
To transfer the game from the floor to the table, simply set things up the way you had it on the floor. It’s probably a good idea to do a quick few pushes on the floor and then move the balls.
It’s just a little reminder for the dog that you’re playing the push-it game. That will help him adjust more quickly to the game being transferred to the table.
I started by putting a bunch of the balls grouped together and very close to one specific spot on the pool table.
Then, I invited Sensi to jump up right in front of that spot. At this point, the game begins.
I point at a ball and tell him to push it, he pushes, I give him a treat.
For this beginner game, let him do a round of pushing and reward each time. Then move the clump of pool balls around the table so the dog gets used to the idea that he’ll be playing this game at all different spots.
As with the last two steps, practice this for 15 minutes each night for at least five nights.
Be sure that with each new session, you begin refining the behavior.
Start decreasing treats for weak pushes, and be sure to make a really big deal whenever there’s a really strong push. Also, give good rewards whenever a strong push causes the pool balls to knock into each other.
On about day three or four, I started playing pool with him. I would break the balls to scatter them and he had to be in a solid sit-stay while I did this.
Then, I invited him up to the table for his turn. Of course, you have decide his shot for him. Once you’ve located a ball near the table’s edge, invite him up and give him the command.
After he’s done, make sure he gets down from the table and does a nice sit-stay while you take your turn.
The key to turning your dog into an excellent pool player is all about your refinement technique. Check tomorrow’s blog to learn how to turn your dog into a pool shark.

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