Friday, January 28, 2011

How to Bag a Cougar - Trick #5

This is a really FUN trick!!  

You’ll need a suitcase that your dog will be able to lay down in, a clicker, treats, and a dog.  Suitcase size will vary depending on what you have available, and the size of your dog.  The suitcase we used would have easily held a 32 lb Seeker; it was a bit more challenging for a 60lb Cougar.  Being the good boy that he is, he figured it out!

This trick will be a lot easier if you’ve completed the 4 feet in a box first.  If you haven’t, the suitcase is now your box!!!  See the ‘4 feet in a box’ post for instructions. 

Once your dog is comfortably standing in the box, we need them to understand that we want them to down.  You 'could' (DON'T) tell them to ‘down’, but that’s NOT the point, we want to shape that behavior.  There’s a couple ways you can approach this.  If you get the slightest head bob, you can click and toss the cookie between their front legs toward their rear legs. As they go to get the cookie, c/t again and toss another one.  We’re forming the down with the placement of the cookie.

The other thing you could try is an auto down outside of the suitcase.  If you’re dog will offer you a down, you can c/t.  Work on that outside the suitcase and then introduce that same ‘offer’ behavior in the suitcase.  Please do not tell them to down.

I accidentally reinforced, and 'trained' Cougar to sit on the edge of the suitcase.  It was rather funny, not the behavior I was looking for, but funny none the less.  I would like to see you ‘try’ to force that behavior, and have them look as happy as Cougar while he was doing it.  He was a great sport!  Okay, Cougar might look happy doing anything!

Could you just pick the dog up, fold him up into a down, inside the suitcase and then reward?  I suppose you could, but what has the dog learned?  They have learned that they are ‘helpless’ unless you ‘spell out’ exactly what you want?  Is that the kind of dog you want?  I sure hope not.  I want a dog that can reason and figure things out for themselves!  It makes us both happy!!  Not to mention, it’s fun!

So, the dog is now downing in the suitcase, time to work on the lid.  I held the lid and my clicker in my left hand, with the lid at a 90 degree angle to the ‘box’, the treats in my right hand.  Continue to c/t for them entering the box and lying down.  Slowly lower the lid, c/t and toss the cookie inside.  Lift the lid back up and call the dog out.  I usually gave my ‘release’ word and c/t as they came out.  I tossed the treat away from me so they had to charge back at the suitcase again.    

Slowly lower the lid so that they have to push just a little to get under it.  C/T, let them crawl in, lay down, c/t and release.  Repeat this, slowly lowering the lid until it’s finally resting on the suitcase and they have to push to get in.  With Michele’s suitcase I had to make sure the lid wasn’t straight on top or Cougar couldn’t push it up.  The lid would fall inside the suitcase, so, he’d just lie on the lid.  SMART DOG!!    

Another difficulty we ran into is that lid was so light, and Cougar, hum, how to put this delicately, is NOT.  Each time he turned around his bum would hit the lid and flip it all the way open.  We wanted the lid shut, with him inside. So, we ended up moving against a wall so the lid would not fall all the way open. You’ll see the change in the video.  

It was a really FUN trick!  You need to be patient!  We did this in one morning, with three separate sessions.  After the first one, I wasn’t sure we’d get this in one day.  We were there for trick videos, so I really wanted to, but it was questionable.  It was amazing what giving him a bit of a break made!  We put him up, played with Seeker a bit and came back to Cougar. By the third time, it was a breeze!!  Please don’t work your dog this long!  It took a total of about 20 minutes over 3 sessions.  The last session was only 4 minutes.  Cougar did FANTASTIC!!  He is not typical!  Gosh, now I feel like I’m doing a weight loss commercial!  

Have Fun!

After all, it’s Only a TRICK!!


  1. Excellent!! I love the tail out of the suitcase!!

  2. That was great! He looks so cute getting in and out of that suitcase. I really like the head peeking out for a treat. Great trick. Several people at the ICDOC show n go a few weeks ago were discussing your tricks and had been working on them. Great posts. Thanks.

  3. That's awesome! Now I have to figure out if I have a suitcase big enough for my dogs to try this.:0/ There may be a trip to Goodwill in my future!

  4. I know! Be sure to look for ones without wheels if you can. That way you don't have the bars on the inside. I'm sure there's a way to remove them? Cougar didn't seem to mind. (':

  5. I've never tried this with a dog, but my cat always packs herself when we get out the suitcases!