I can't tell you how many times my Picture Perfect Pets dog training students have asked me how to keep the dog out of the dishwasher while they are loading or unloading it, how to keep the dog out of the fridge while they are trying to get things from it themselves, how to keep dogs from jumping on them while they make dinner...and so on.
My answer, as ever, is use management when you don't have time to train your dog and use dog training to teach your dog an incompatible behavior over time--some busy work for your dog to do while you get real work done. If you repeat the same pattern every time your dog is in a certain situation, the pattern will just develop into a habit. All we have to do is prevent opportunities for your dog to learn the habit of climbing into the dishwasher and build the habit of lying down patiently nearby.
In this video clip, you'll see part of Tatsuya's dog training for our "Dishwasher Down." I have to admit that my title for this activity was inspired by Jen Shryock (creator of the Dogs & Storks program). She was the first person I had heard use the phrase, "Diaper Down," for keeping dogs on hold while human baby's diaper is being changed to prevent, well--to prevent he obvious! By the way, Dogs & Storks™ is the first national program that prepares families with dogs for life with baby!
Back to Dishwasher Down...What dog training work came before this video? Lots of practice with the basic down cue the way we teach the steps in our Level 1 dog training courses (Puppy Perfect and Doggy DoRight) at Picture Perfect Pets. We practice often in various locations and situations, including in the kitchen during a variety of daily activities. Multi-tasking is an invaluable skill when training a new dog!
Then, we began to practice down/wait (or other on-hold cues) with the distraction of the dishwasher being opened and shut, and dishes being added or removed. We gradually built up to longer sessions from a few seconds to a few minutes.
Tatsu's only lived here for 2 weeks, and is now 14 weeks old, so we haven't had a great deal of time to practice, and already, we've seen good progress. Oh, and might I mention that borzois are notoriously difficult to train?!) From Wikipedia: "The Borzoi ranks 75th out of 78 in Stanley Coren's The Intelligence of Dogs, being of the lowest breeds in degree of working/obedience intelligence. It took Borzois at least 80-100 repetitions to understand a new command and obeyed the first command less than 25% of the time." I would argue that the borzoi's training challenge isn't lack of intelligence, but lack of motivation. Convincing a borzoi that what you want happens to be what they want as well is the big challenge.
In the video clip above, I'm practicing Dishwasher Down during Tatsu's breakfast to accomplish several goals at once:
Tatsu is learning to eat more slowly--if given his whole meal at once, he swallows it down so quickly he makes himself sick. That's a bad, bad habit for dogs prone to bloat and gastric torsion!
Tatsu is learning to like it when I take his food dish away during his meals. This should help prevent him from developing a food-dish-guarding habit that some dogs are likely to develop without preventative training.
Tatsu is learning to stay in one place, out from under my clumsy feet, while I do dishes. This also prevents him from chasing the dishes and trying to help me clean up by licking the dishes.
Soon, we'll build up to fewer rewards during a session--eventually just one reward at the end (remember that rewards need not always be food), and then random rewards for Dishwasher Downs.
We can even make this long, potentially boring time easier for our dogs by also providing them fantastic chew toys during longer sessions. Click here to read my puzzle toys article for more ideas.
Here are some other situational practice suggestions for stay put and out of my way (a good "down" goes a long way--practice during role plays before trying to actually use the cue when you really need to get something done). Practice whilst:
- getting things our of the refridgerator
- cooking dinner
- feeding the baby
- changing the baby
- baby is swinging, using walker or playing with toys
- reading the newspaper
- working on the computer
- talking on the phone
- entertaining visitors around the coffee table
- talking to a friend you've met on a walk