Teach Your Dog To Wink!
Dr. Caroline Coile's specialty is "dogs, dogs, dogs!"
Her Ph.D. was based in canine senses, genetics, and behaviour, and she writes extensively on veterinary, genetics, senses, and other science topics. But that doesn't mean she's not about fun!
A bestselling author, she's written, among other titles, an Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds and Show Me!, a book about showing your dog (this over-achiever shows her dogs, too). She's also authored two books—Beyond Fetch and Silly Dog Tricks for Smart Kids—of fun tricks and games to play with your dog. We asked Caroline to share a fun dog trick that anyone, kids included, can teach their dog, and she offered up this crowd-pleasing trick utilizing classical conditioning. Ready to teach your dog to wink? It's easier than it sounds!
Wink of an Eye
Want to teach your dog to wink? The winking trick is based on a kind of learning called classical conditioning, made famous by Pavlov. He accidentally discovered his dogs would drool at the sight of the person who brought them food, whether that person had food or not—just like you may drool at the sight of your favourite drive-in! What happens is that one thing (the drive-in sign) signals that something else (eating a burger) will follow it, and eventually you start to react (by drooling) to the sign just as you would to eating the hamburger!
In this dog trick the sound of a word ("Really?") will signal something else (being touched on a whisker), and eventually the dog will start to react (by blinking) to the word just as he would to being touched on the whisker. Here's how to do it:
1) Say "Really?"
2) Touch your dog's whiskers on the side of his muzzle, on the same side of his face you want him to wink with.
3) He will automatically blink that eye. Give him a treat.
4) Keep practicing until he starts to wink before you can touch his whiskers.
Now when you say "Really?" to him he will wink as though you and he were sharing a secret. You'll be the hit of the dog park!
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