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Discussion Starter #1
So I had it in my head that I was going to train Pumbaa to a target stick. Since she's so short, I thought it would be easier to use a stick than my hand when teaching various maneuvers. Now I'm having second thoughts. How will I attach a hand signal to whatever I'm teaching if I've used a target stick? I mean, usually the target (or luring) hand motion sort of turns into the signal for the exercise. But if my hand is never involved, how will I get the signal in there?

Maybe I just need some advice on how to use a target stick. Never used one before and I'm wondering what the benefit is and how to get started.
 

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So I had it in my head that I was going to train Pumbaa to a target stick. Since she's so short, I thought it would be easier to use a stick than my hand when teaching various maneuvers. Now I'm having second thoughts. How will I attach a hand signal to whatever I'm teaching if I've used a target stick? I mean, usually the target (or luring) hand motion sort of turns into the signal for the exercise. But if my hand is never involved, how will I get the signal in there?

Maybe I just need some advice on how to use a target stick. Never used one before and I'm wondering what the benefit is and how to get started.
Start with the stick long, and fade it by raising it up so that the lower portion is less visible and is further from the dog. By then the dog is pretty much looking at your hand and you can signal as you normally would.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Ah...so a telescoping target stick would be a good idea, then. That's a great hint because I haven't actually gotten a stick, yet, and I was considering just making my own out of a wooden dowel with a little tennis ball on the end. But if the stick's ability to telescope will help me, I'll invest in a "real" one.

Question, though...if the dog is properly trained to a target stick and I start fading it up, won't that just signal for the dog to leap into the air to touch the target?
 

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Ah...so a telescoping target stick would be a good idea, then. That's a great hint because I haven't actually gotten a stick, yet, and I was considering just making my own out of a wooden dowel with a little tennis ball on the end. But if the stick's ability to telescope will help me, I'll invest in a "real" one.

Question, though...if the dog is properly trained to a target stick and I start fading it up, won't that just signal for the dog to leap into the air to touch the target?
Additionally, you could to to an electronics store and pick up a telescoping antenna for a few bucks and a cat toy ball for even less. I like the "cute" target sticks though! Are you clicker training? I'd fade very gradually and simply not click any efforts that involved jumping up if that wasn't what I was looking for.
 

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Another option would be to teach a verbal cue and a hand signal after.

1. Use the target stick to lure the behaviour.
2. When the behaviour is reliable, add a cue word. Say the cue, wait a second or two then lure with the stick. Eventually the dog will predict the lure and perform on cue.
3. When the behaviour is reliable on cue, add a hand signal. Use your hand signal wait a second or two then use your cue word. Eventually the dog will predict the cue and perform for the hand signal.

This is all basically replacing one cue with another. As an example: I have a baby gate that blocks the living room from the kitchen where the back door is. When Eppy needs out I ask him to sit before I remove the gate. I changed the cue to having my hand on the baby gate handle. To train this I put my gate on the handle, waited a few seconds then said "sit". I no longer have to say sit. He sits when he sees my hand on the handle. I have also done this with doorknobs. My hand on a doorknob means "sit and wait".
 
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