Training your puppy to perform fun tricks not only allows you to brag to your friends about your amusing and intelligent dog, but also keeps your pet alert, entertained, and engaged. When training a puppy, you should break the trick into small steps and start at the beginning. With a flushing trick, training the puppy to touch the flusher and following through with the desired action are the final steps.
Make a target stick. This training tool has a tennis ball attached to the end of a round wooden dowel that is 2 feet to 3 feet long. Using scissors or a knife, you take the tennis ball and cut a hole that is just big enough to slip the ball onto the end of the stick.2
Train your puppy to target the tennis ball with its foot. Touch the ball end of your target stick to your puppy's paw. At the exact moment that the ball touches your puppy's paw, say "target" and "good." Reward your puppy with a treat.3
Repeat this initial target training several times. There is no set number of times to engage in this step, because each dog learns at its own pace.4
Progress to having your dog move toward the target stick. When your puppy starts to understand that treats come with the target, hold the target stick a few inches away from the puppy's paw. Say "target." If your puppy moves to touch the ball with its foot, reward with a treat. If it does not touch the target, go back to touching the ball to its foot and reward.5
Move the target farther away and to different locations, asking your puppy to "target." Reward when it touches the ball with its foot.6
Set the target ball above the flusher on the toilet, and ask your dog to target. With this, your puppy should rise to touch the ball with its paw and accidentally touch the handle. When your puppy does touch the handle, say "flush" and "good," and reward. Continue this exercise until your puppy recognizes that "flush" means to touch the flusher.7
Point to the handle and say, "flush" without the target stick. Reward your puppy with a treat if it responds. If your pet does not respond, then return to using the target stick to direct your puppy where to put its paw.8
Your puppy will probably flush the toilet by accident at first. Make a big deal out of this, and your puppy will want to do it again. If your puppy does not accidentally flush the toilet, help him by pushing the handle as your puppy touches it with its paw. Give lots of treats and praise for flushing the toilet, even if you helped. Eventually your puppy will learn to do this on its own.
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