My dogs love to be on the table – how do I train them?
The key to the love is, positive training. I start to train my puppies very early, about 5-7 weeks.
I have tables in different sizes, I also made constructions in different heights where I can put my larger table, when the legs are folded.
To start with I use my large table with the legs folded, so the table is flat on the floor, the larger the table the better. The basic idea is that “all the fun happens on the table”. Start with serving their food on the table, put in on the middle so that all paws need to leave the floor! Every time you reward your dog reward it on the table! It takes a puppy about 1 day to understand the benefit of being on the table. Have the table flat on the floor so the dogs can jump up and down whenever they want!
As soon as the dog is relaxed on the table, go on to the next step! (the table is still flat on the floor). Play around with the dog on the table so it moves around freely without tension. Either you put a candy in each corner, so the dog needs to walk around on it, or make it play with a toy, like the working dog trainers do with their dogs. It took me many years to understand the benefit of teaching my dogs to struggle with a toy, but I really recommend it. The most difficult dogs to train are the dogs not interested in candy nor in playing with a toy. But remember every time you want the dog to be on the table there must be a candy, even when you train on higher levels.
The best time to train your dog is right before it is fed, because that is when it it motivated for food
Parallel with this I teach my dogs “stand for the candyhand”. This training is done on the floor or outside on the ground, NOT on the table. The “candyhand” is when you press your right indexfinger towards the middle of the thumb. The rest of the fingers are folded together holding the candy. I use meatballs, because it is easy for the dog to grab a small bite and eating it fast without taking time for chewing.
When I hold my hand like this, it is a sign for my dog to stop. If you imagine the movement of the hand like a clock, where 12 o´clock is straight up, 6 o´clock straight down, you should position your hand at 2 o´clock, Slightly in front of the dog and up in the air, so it stops naturally. To start with the dog in going to jump for the hand, but do not correct the dog with your voice! Just ignore it and turn around in a circle turning to the right, like you do in the showring. Let the dog chase your hand, raise it until you find the stop position.
As soon as it stops with it ears up for expectation, “flick” your fingers and give reward!
This is where the first trick is. You need to be able to do the “flick” extremely fast, in 1 second you must be able to do 3 “flicks” that is how fast you need to be doing it. Second trick is your timing, the 10th of a second you dog shows expectation and raise its ears, you need to flick your fingers and give the reward instantly, even if it sits down.
Never ever reward a dog that not shows expectation, just to “keep it happy”, then you teach the dog the wrong behavior.
When the “flick” is done, make the dog take one step forward to get the candy. The dog needs to always think forward to get the right expression (exaggerated, left picture below). Don´t give the reward to the dog so it starts to think backward (right picture).
When the dog and you found the “stop position”, it is time to combine it with the table. Keep the table legs folded or use a table with short legs. Put a candy on the table (or probably the dog is standing on the table already). Make it jump on the table and make it walk around freely, without a leash, do the “stop position” with your hand and be fast to look for the expectation and reward! Don´t bother if your dog is sitting down or i standing incorrectly. Right now you are teaching “expectation”. Let the dog jump down on the ground and play! When I train my dogs I do it very short and concentrated, maybe 3-5 minutes but instead 2 -4 times a day.
Author Suzanne Nisser Blanck