These tips are written for puppies, but I think they can be adapted for general use by any quadrupeds wishing to train a biped. I’ve based them on my own experiences of the things that have worked for me.
The first time that a biped offers you a treat in return for doing something, you may be tempted to refuse if the treat isn’t particularly interesting. I think it’s worth accepting the treat to show that you are open to negotiation, as bipeds tend to decide you don’t understand if you refuse. It’s important to get them used to the idea of giving you rewards for doing little things for them. There will be ample opportunities for negotiating a better deal once they are accustomed to the idea.
You need to be patient and spend the first few weeks showing them how clever and adaptable you are. They will probably concentrate on asking for fairly easy things from you during this time. It’s simple to trade a sit for a treat and you need them to become comfortable with this before forcing them to think harder.
You may get taken to a puppy training class, or somewhere else with lots of people and distractions. This is an excellent time to make it clear that you are not satisfied with the treats they are using. Showing no interest whatsoever in the treat they are offering works reasonably well, but if you take the treat and then spit it out it gives a little more emphasis to the point you are making. It also gives them time to think about their shortcomings while they clean it up. I have seen the cats pretend that they are going to vomit when offered something they don’t like – this is very effective, but loses its dramatic effect if you do it too often!
You should find that the quality of the treats goes up after this and you should show your appreciation by responding to their requests, but don’t let them get too complacent! It’s wise to reject the treats again after another week or so, this will make them offer you something even better. You can keep doing this to see what variations they will provide and then you can decide on your favourite, or you can decide you like them to keep varying the treats.
Bipeds have a tendency to get fixated on one thing that they wish to do well, such as giving you a treat for a sit. You can show your boredom in a number of ways. Sometimes I have wandered off to do something else until they find something more entertaining to do, sometimes I have flopped down and refused to move. At other times I have pretended I don’t understand the request.
It can be difficult for bipeds to understand what we want of them, so always try to end a training session on a positive note. You have to try various things to see what works on your bipeds, but you could politely request that they play with you by doing a play bow. If that doesn’t cheer them up then rolling over on your back for your tummy to be rubbed never fails!
See you next Wednesday!