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Imagine that you are sitting in your office or den watching TV or working on your computer. As the day progresses, the light from a nearby window creates a glare on your screen. You look around the room and spot your puppy laying on his bed in the corner, chewing on a chew toy. You get his attention, motion toward the curtain, and tell him to 'Close It'. He happily hops up and goes over to the curtain and pulls it closed. You praise him from your seat and when he comes over to you, you hand him a treat from a nearby zip-lock bag filled with treats. You grin widely as you think over the number of useful tricks that you have taught him already. He knows how to bring you your shoes, close the curtain, put his toys back into the toy basket, and fetch the news paper for you. What a helpful pup he is!
Teaching your pup to close the curtain can be both fun and useful. After all, wouldn't it be nice to just be able to ask your puppy to close the curtain for you instead of having to get up when you are comfortably situated on the couch trying to wind down after a long day?
If your puppy tends to be destructive in your home and tear things up, then you might want to wait to teach him this until he is past the chewing phase and no longer tends to destroy things.
Once you have taught your puppy this trick, if he starts to close the curtains on his own when you have not asked him to, then do not reward him for it. Only reward him for closing the curtains when you tell him to in order to avoid all of your curtains being constantly closed when you do not want them to be!
To get started, you will need a curtain that your puppy can reach, lots of easy-to-eat, tasty treats, and a calm location. If you are using the 'Play Tug' method, then you will also need a long tug toy, such as a rope toy, and something to tie the tug toy to the curtain with, such as a piece of thin rope or string. If you are using the 'Clicker Training' method, then you will also need a training clicker. With all of the methods you will need patience, a willingness to reward small steps of progress, clear instruction, and a positive attitude.
The Play Tug Method
Get set up
To begin, you will need a long tug toy, something to tie the tug toy to the curtain with, some treats, and a long hanging curtain. Attach the tug toy to the bottom corner of the curtain on the side that you would normally pull on in order to close the curtain. Once you are ready, call your puppy over to you.
When your puppy arrives, show him the tug toy and encourage him to bite it and pull on it. Tell him to 'Close It' in an excited tone of voice while you do this. As soon as he takes hold of the toy, pull back on it a little bit to encourage him to tug on it. When he tugs on it, let it go so that he moves the curtain a bit. When he moves the curtain, praise him and offer him a treat.
Practice getting him to tug on the toy and move the curtain when you say 'Close It' until he will tug on it even harder once he realizes that he can earn a treat by tugging on it. As he improves, gradually increase how far he has to tug it before you will praise him and give him a treat. Practice this until he can close the curtain all the way.
Use just the curtain
When your pup can close the curtain, remove the tug toy from the curtain, wiggle the end of the curtain around like a toy, and tell him to 'Close It'. Reward him for biting or tugging on the curtain. As he improves, require him to pull the curtain closed even more before you give him a treat, just like you did with the tug toy.
Begin to tell him to 'Close It' from gradually further and further away. Start by moving only one foot further away from him and telling him from there. When he can consistently obey you, gradually take more and more steps away from him as he improves. Do this until you can instruct him from the other side of the room while you are sitting down and he will close it.
Generalize the lesson
Once your puppy has mastered closing one curtain, start this method over with a different curtain until he can close that one also. Repeat this with all of the curtains in your home that you wish for him to be able to close and motion toward that particular curtain.
The Clicker Training Method
To begin, grab a clicker and some tasty treats. Go over to the curtain that you want your pup to close and call him over to you.
Wiggle the curtain in front of your puppy's face and encourage him to bite it. Tell him to 'Close It' while you do this. As soon as he bites it, click your clicker and give him a treat. Repeat this until he will bite it whenever you tell him to 'Close It' even when you do not wiggle it.
Increase the holding time
While the curtain is in his mouth, wait one second before you click your clicker and give him a treat. If he drops the curtain too soon, encourage him to bite it again and do not give him a treat until he holds it. As he improves, gradually increase how long he must hold it for before you give him a treat. Practice this until he will hold onto the curtain for ten seconds.
Add backing up
Tell your puppy to 'Close It' and while he is holding onto the curtain, slowly walk towards him so that he backs up a step with the curtain in his mouth. As soon as he backs up, click your clicker and give him a treat. Practice having him back up one step until he will do that on his own as part of the trick when you tell him to 'Close It'.
Add more steps backward
Add additional steps by walking toward him again. Add only a couple of steps at a time and practice that number of steps until he can back up that number of steps on his own. When he can do that, add more steps again. Repeat adding steps and practicing them until he can close the curtain the entire way by backing up with it in his mouth.
Practice giving the command from further and further away. Do this by standing one foot further away from him when you give the command. Practice the command from that distance until he has mastered that, then take another step away and practice it from there too. Repeat adding steps and practicing it until you can give your pup the command from the other side of the room.
The Helper Method
To begin, grab some treats, go over to the curtain, and call your pup over to you. Tell him to 'Close It' and wiggle the end of the curtain around in front of his face. As soon as he bites it, praise him and give him a treat. Repeat this until he will bite the curtain when you tell him to 'Close It' before you wiggle it.
Help him pull it
Position him on the side of the window that you would pull the curtain towards to close it. Tell him to 'Close It' and encourage him to go over to the curtain and bite it. As soon as he bites it, help him pull the curtain closed with your hand. If he backs up a step while holding onto it, praise him and give him a treat. Repeat this until he will consistently back up at least one step with the curtain in his mouth without you helping him.
Close it completely
When your pup can back up with the curtain in his mouth, encourage him to back up even more before you offer him a reward. If he drops the curtain too soon, then do not give him a treat yet. Wait until he gets it right. Repeat this until he can pull the curtain completely closed by backing up with it in his mouth.
When your puppy can close the curtain completely, practice giving the command from slightly further away. As he improves, gradually add more steps over time until you can tell him to 'Close It' while sitting down on the other side of the room. Congratulations! Your pup can now help you create the perfect atmosphere in your den.
Add other rooms
Now, practice this command in other rooms with other curtains by following the same steps until your pup can close any curtain that you point to when you tell him to 'Close It'.
By Caitlin Crittenden
Published: 06/13/2018, edited: 01/08/2021