October 18, 2010

On Your Mark!

Today we decided to start training Champ how to be a movie star (should the opportunity arise) just like his great-great-great grandpa was in Disney’s White Fang.  The foundational skill of any celebrity dog’s repertoire is to hit a mark, or in other words, to plant those front paws on a designated location on verbal command and stay there.

So Joe made a mark board and this afternoon we gave Champ his first lesson. 

IMG_9158 They say a dog who loves to eat is easy to train.  I’d say that’s the case with young Champ.  He’s a growing boy and no amount of food seems to satisfy his appetite lately, so he was all too eager to hit his mark and earn some treats!


And Melvin’s not too cool for school either.  Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?  He was overjoyed at the chance to prove his smarts with a mark board.   :)



  • http://dogblogemma.blogspot.com Emma Rose and the Duchess

    How fun! We will have to try that too :)

  • http://thzkennels.com Tim McElravy

    i have that movie White fang…your dog was in it? was he White Fang…I’ll need to watch that tomorrow now :)

    • Hi, Tim. Yeah, Joe provided and trained the dog team for the original Disney film. Champ’s great great great grandpa, Bear was the lead dog in that team. :) Joe was also an extra in the movie for the part of Alex, so when you see a guy running in snowshoes in front of the team, it’s usually Joe.
  • http://piappies.blogspot.com/ Piappies World

    Good job Champ! We enjoyed watching White Fang just to catch your great 3x grandpa’s movie appearance!

    You sure have the makings of a superstar! Of course, that also goes out for Melvin. We love how you lovingly watch over the pups as they grow up. You sure got a lot of patience.

    Piappies Fudgie, Princess, Frappie, Mocha, Sugar, Wai-Pai & Wai-Max

  • http://e410.wordpress.com Just Run With It

    (I just read your comment back to Tim) Seriously?! Joe was in White Fang?! And one of your dogs, too! SO COOL. I’ll have to go rent the movie now :)

    • Yeah. It was filmed up here in Alaska in 1991 if I remember correctly. All the dogs in the dog team were Joe’s. He had so much fun working on that project.
  • http://www.tworiversak.com/mushing.htm Swanny

    Have you ever looked into operant conditioning methods (i.e. “clicker-training”) for precision behaviors? Even notoriously hard headed Alaskan huskies are easily trained with such methods.

    • Hi Swanny,

      I used to use clickers about 20 years ago when training dogs for movies and TV commercials. It worked great for those purposes because you could work it between the actors’ speaking lines without interfereing with the actors. But nowadays I don’t use a clicker at all and I just do all my training by voice command. It takes about half a dozen short training sessions to get a dog to hit a hidden mark (in the snow or sand or brush from about 40 feet away) which is a requirement on a movie set.