I'm not sure who is more clever - you or the b.
thanks for sharing. Do you have bones of other colors?
Actually, I do have a white bone, (and he knows the difference, although I doubt he differentiates by colour), but he knows his frog plush toy, his carrot, his blue octopus, etc. and will usually get me the item asked for, wherever it happens to be in the house. This is a favourite "pre dinner" exercise, and it is amusing to see him charge around looking for the requested toy. He is always so pleased when he gets it right. After I say "thank you" he heads for his mat in the kitchen, and waits expectantly for his dinner to be served.
Yes… food. The all-time best basenji motivator! How exactly did you go about your training with this? I'm interested because I take Kipawa to hospitals to cheer people up, and it would be fun to bring a few toys along and have him do this.
I clicker trained him, first to retrieve (not actually a retrieve, as I don't throw the object). Even a dog that is disinclined to pick things up, particularly things he doesn't find attractive, will learn quickly with a clicker. Initially Perry had no interest in picking up the red bone, which was one of the reasons I chose it. (he would bring back a thrown plush toy…..when it suited him! )
So, click for proximity to the bone, continue to reward successive approximations, pretty soon he sniffs it, pretty soon he starts opening his mouth, and so on until he actually picks it up. Put it on cue. I use "pick it up" as a generic for the action. Then name the object. "Pick up the red bone". With a little encouragement you may persuade him to bring it to you, if not teach "give" and backward chain it. I ask for a "service dog" retrieve......I want the object delivered into my hand, not dropped at my feet. Soon you have "bring me the red bone". Once he "gets it" start working with other objects, always naming them and working with them until he is solid on each one. Your goal is to ask for a specific object and not reward anything else......and he will try a substitution if the object you ask for is not readily visible! With a bit of practice, you can get him to hunt all over the house until he finds what you want. You can see there are practical applications for this as well.
Working right before meal time gives incentive and is a good time to practice, but obviously you can practice this with good results anytime he knows there are food rewards available. Sometimes I also toss the toys in a pile and ask for them by name. On any given day, he may nail it, but there are times when he can't be bothered and will bring me whatever is easiest or on top of the pile......which doesn't get him what he wants! Like any other behaviour, this can be overworked until the dog is sick of it, so keep it fun for him.
What a Star! Such a clever boy. I only know one other Basenji who can fetch any named article!
I have had a couple, but Perry is the best! My girl Lady would bring me a bone on request (one of those processed white bones) and also her collar…...which she didn't like to pick up (esthetics, I think.....didn't like the feel in her mouth), but she would if I insisted. Funny story. I would send Lady to retrieve her bone from the basement. I had a treat at the ready as a reward. She would start down the stairs, get halfway down, then return to make sure I still had the treat for her. It usually took her 3 or 4 attempts to make it all the way to the basement and return with the bone!
Sunny had a fairly good repertoire as well. I started using "pick it up" with him, because I had read Chuck Eisenmann's book. I find "pick it up" a very useful command, as you can point to pretty much anything and invoke it. Naming the object moves you towards the goal of recognizing and bringing the items you desire. Anything that increases vocabulary and understanding improves communication with your dog, IMO. Since I discovered clicker training, I have really enjoyed using it, as it speeds things up greatly, and the dog soon learns that when the clicker appears it is time to start offering behaviours.