Owned by Pugs

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Mental Exercise

Benjamin giving 5

This summer I have felt like the mother of four kids who have completely run out of things to do on their summer break from school. The heat has severely limited the pugs' normal walking schedule and I have found that the pugs aren't even going out to sniff around in the yard much because of the heat.

With 8 pug eyes starring at me all day, just looking for something to get into, I thought that I would give the pugs a little bit of a mental challenge. So, I decided to teach them all a new trick.

The pugs have varying levels of training. Having been through puppy training and basic obedience together, the boys are on the same page skill wise. The only trick Luna has mastered is the sit command, and Sol, well, Sol is an expert at looking cute.

With the pugs all over the map, I picked out different things to teach them. Which was good because it made the training experiences mental exercises for me as well. For the boys, I chose "gimme 5", for Luna I chose, "down" and for Sol I went with the classic "sit".

I have been working with the pugs for a little over a week and let me tell you that our short training sessions have added a lot of laughs to my day.

First, I keep forgetting to give Sol her hand signals. I just sit there with her talk, talk, talking away and she just looks at me, like, um, lady, I'm deaf, remember!

The other thing with Sol is that teaching her the sit command has been a nomadic experience. I will give her the hand signal for sit and she will eventually sit. As soon as her bottom hits the ground, I reward her with her treat. But, after that she doesn't move. She remains in the sitting position. Which I guess is good, but we don't really get many reps in that way. The only way to get her to stand back up again is if I move about 4 or 5 feet away and give her the come command. She will then saunter over to me and I can give her the sit signal again. After repeating this about 10 times, I guess you could say that Sol got her walk in as well because we have pretty much made our way around the house by that point.

Teaching Luna the down command has been challenging. The girl does not have one submissive bone in her body, so she isn't much for laying down at your feet. To teach her to lay down, I took a treat and held it on the floor and positioned it slightly under her chin, so she would practically have to put her chin to the ground to get the treat. In our first training session, I held the treat on the ground and she went into a bow position (front half down, back half up) and spent about ten minutes licking the treat. Finally, probably out of exhaustion, she lowered her rear half to the floor. At that point, I said the word "down" and promptly gave her the treat. This continued for awhile, but she is finally getting the hang of things and pretty much will lay down as soon as you put the treat to the floor. If you don't have a treat, she won't even give you the time of day. And don't ask her to do this trick on the tile floor either. It clearly states in her rider that she requires a carpeted surface for treat training.

Working with the boys is old hat for me and I expected teaching them "gimme 5" would go much like every other training experience. Meaning, Henry would catch on in a few training sessions and after a few weeks Benny would be a master at the command as well. However, the boys threw me a curve ball this time and after thinking about it for a few days it makes perfect sense.

See, Benjamin, is a slow learner. What he does know, he knows very well, but it takes a long time to teach him things. However, he learned "gimme 5" in 3 short training sessions! Now, that is probably normal for most dogs, but considering that this is Benny I was bouncing off the walls with excitement. Its like Benjamin has been waiting to learn the "gimme 5" command his whole life.

After I thought about it, it became clear to me why. Benny is very paw orientated. He uses his paw all the time to tell you what he wants. He will scratch at the front door to go out to go potty, he will scratch on the fridge door when he is hungry and much to my disliking he will scratch on my arm to tell me he would like some of my dinner. So having Benny sit his paw on my hand to get a treat came naturally to him.

Henry picked up the trick as well, but it took him about four days longer. Henry is not one to scratch to get what he wants, so this trick did not come naturally for him at all. But, with just a little extra work, he is now a "gimme 5" expert as well.

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I was cracking up at the Luna’s Rider comment….ahahahahaha….How cool that the gang has some new tricks up their paws…Great job all!!



Corrine and puggies you brighten up a very rainy morning here in Kansas City.  You are one very dedicated mom and such funny and cute stories you tell of their new trick sessions.  Rock on puggies.



It’s a very rainy morning here in South Florida as well. I just loved this post, too funny! Thanks for brightening my day!



what a great story.  i loved reading it and hearing about their progress.



I love this post! Pug training is such a hoot! For Sol, I wonder if there is a release hand signal you could teach her. Our release word is ‘free’ but maybe something could accompany this to signal her that the command it over? Just a thought!  Agreed on the rider comment-hilarious!

Ok, you need to come teach my dogs tricks. Harley knows sit and speak but does them when he wants, and won’t learn anything new. Sophie and Dixie, coming from the puppymill, have ZERO manners and know NO tricks and refuse to learn!! HALLLLP!

Karen B


C.J. and Toeby will sit for treats but try and get them to “down” and they look at me like I’m crazy!  Luna’s rider?  ROFLMAO!

Yes, you all brighten my day no end and I thank you for that!  I love your pug family!



Here in North Texas we have the same heat issues, so I know how a cooped-up pug looks at you.  Good for you for coming up with an idea to deal with the laziness of the
“dog days of summer.”



This is a classic!  Interesting, instructional, and funny!  Thank you, Corrine.  Here in Amazon-like northern VA, Ellie deigns to walk about a half block, does what she needs to, shleps her way home, and collapses on one of her four beds not to move again for hours.



What a great post Corrine. Had me in stitches. I loved it.

Sol is like my 12 year old Chiweenie, Lizzie, we take pleasure in the fact that she will come and she waits at the corner to be released while on walks.

My pug, Lucy is an eager learner since she lives and breathes food. The girl would leave with animal control if they held out a treat. We started off with right paw, then left, and now we play patty cake. Fun stuff.



We’d love to see the new tricks on video if you find a spare minute! smile



Ok, guess I’m confused, is it the pugs that are getting mental exercise or Mom??? ha!

Sleighbelle does the sit, down, and shake, but her shake is more like a gimme 5.



That is awesome! Indy was super easy to train, she can dance, sit, stay, lay down, come here, paw and dance. We also taught her a lot of verbal commands so we could walk her off leash: wait, spit it out, off the road, go!. Gus was a different expierence altogether. When the breeder gave him to us, she changed his name from what the people before hand had had so we thought he was deaf in the beginning, we hadn’t realized she had changed his name.
He is very treat focused so they helped alot when we did two rounds of puppy school. He know what was taught at school - sit, down, lay down, come, paw and he picked up dance from watching indy. smile He is way better with hand signals then verbal commands.
They are so funny!



I applaud you! All my pugs can do is “Sit” and “down” and we’re working on “stay” but it can be difficult at times. I have also taught them “out” when they go in the bedroom (they’re not allowed in there). I should try “Gimme 5” and see how it goes…

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