By Kate Gill
Where’s the apple? A genius dog proves she knows what an apple looks like in a game of picture cards.
Elementary teacher Zelah Brandt, 45, from Martinez in California has trained her pup Lucy to identify pictures and colours using picture cards.
Zelah says this incredible trick by the 19-month-old bulldog-staffy mix was learnt by Lucy after positive reinforcement behaviour training.
Zelah said: “We had a new speech therapist at school who has a therapy dog. Her dog can identify picture cards, and of course I was impressed.
“We were doing behaviour training with Lucy at that time and we thought it would be fun to teach her this as well.
“My colleague showed me how I can train Lucy using treats. Since Lucy is highly motivated by food, it didn’t take her long to learn.
“It’s basically Pavlovian Conditioning using positive reinforcement. We first showed her the apple card and rewarded her when she touched it.
“We did that about three to five times before introducing another card and I asked her to touch the apple. Since then we’ve done other things like soda cans and identifying colours.
“As cool as this is, this is her least favourite trick. Her attention and interest in doing this is short.
“When she’s had enough she usually just rolls over to get a treat or starts anticipating and choosing before we even show the items, just to get the treat sooner.
“Lucy is a smart pup but she can be stubborn at times. She’s great with kids and is very curious and sociable. We’re currently getting her ready to take the AKC Canine Good Citizen Test.”