Teacher’s Pet: Teach Your Dog to Carry a Flag

Hello hello, and welcome back to Teacher’s Pet, a column on all things training!  Every other #TrainingTuesday, Brussels.Sprout, will share his how-tos for learning new tricks, updates on his own adventures in agility competition, and his favorite tips for helping you and your pup bond over training.

Teach(ing) Your Dog to Hold or Carry a Flag

This past weekend I was thinking about what to post for the Fourth of July and decided I wanted Sproutie holding a little American flag.  The only challenge was that as of July 1, he had no idea how to hold a flag.

Challenge accepted.

And so this week on #TeachersPet we’re giving you an inside look into how we actually teach Sprout tricks.  As you can see it can be a long process, filled with many many reputations, an awkward mom and an infinitely good puppy. What’s pretty cool though is you can already see our progress after 3 brief sessions.

Session 1: Sunday AM

Tips and Takeaways:

  • “Shape” the behavior by rewarding incremental progress until you achieve the end goal.  Start by just rewarding your dog for showing any interest in the flag handle, then up the ante and only reward if he puts his mouth on it… if he closes his mouth on it… if he holds it for a split second… for an actual second… you get the idea!
  • Repetition is key so use tiny treats

Session 2: Sunday PM

Tips and Takeaways:

  • Having your dog bring you the flag helps him get used to holding the flag in his mouth and gives you an opportunity to incorporate a release word
  • Keep your practice sessions short – around 5 minutes, a couple of times a day – to help avoid your dog (or you) loosing interest or getting frustrated

Session 3: Monday PM

Tips and Takeaways:

  • Timing is super important so make sure to give your dog his release word before he actually starts to drop the flag
  • Have FUN!

We still have a ways to go so we better get back to practice!  Until next time!


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Brussels Sprout

Sprout is a perpetually pouty, 2 year old smooth-coated Brussels Griffon. This tiny little tastemaker loves sweater weather, brunch, giving back to less fortunate dogs, and teeny-tiny tennis balls. He is passionate about lengthy naps and higher education, with dreams of one day becoming an agility champion.

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