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Training

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2 min read

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How to Train Your Dog to Turn Off the Lights

Training

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2 min read

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How to Train Your Dog to Turn Off the Lights
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon4-6 Weeks
Chores training category iconChores

Introduction

Don't you hate it when you're snuggled in bed or on the couch ready to watch a movie and you have to get up to turn the lights off when the light switch is across the room? What if you could get a helper to take care of that? If you have a dog, you might be able to ask for her assistance if you train her how to turn off the lights.

This is a fun trick that also serves a great purpose. We are all trying to use less energy, so engaging your dog in this planet-friendly habit will not only save your electric bills, but it will also give you some great time to bond with your best friend. This trick is a little more advanced and may take some time for her to understand the cue, but you'll be happy she learned to turn off the lights when the next movie night rolls around.

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Defining Tasks

Teaching your dog to turn off the lights is considered an advanced trick. It's helpful if she has already mastered commands like 'sit','jump', and 'watch me'. You also need to take into consideration the size and agility of your dog and how far off the ground your light switch is. If you have a large dog that can reach the switch without jumping, you may have more success than with a smaller dog that doesn't like to jump. Some breeds of dog are certainly better suited for turning out the lights than others. Don't attempt this trick if your dog has any health problems that would make it painful.

Another important consideration is the kind of light switch you have. This trick works best with light switches that toggle back and forth or flip up and down. Don't attempt this trick with a lamp or anything that could fall and break. You don't want to damage property or risk your dog cutting his paw on broken glass or getting hit with a falling object.

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Getting Started

There are a few things you need before you attempt this trick. As mentioned previously, it's a good idea to teach your dog commands like "sit," "watch me," and "jump." Your dog should be used to training games and learning tricks. Once you feel comfortable, keep these items on hand and you are ready to start.

  • Tasty treats for training
  • A clicker to mark behavior
  • Sticky notes to target touching
  • A laser pointer
  • Time and patience

Take a look at the three methods below and choose the one you think will work best for your dog. With a little practice, you'll be uploading videos of your dog's new talent and you'll never have to get out of bed to turn off the lights again.

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The Jump and Treat Method

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1

Stand by the light switch

Choose a light switch your dog can easily reach. Call her over to you and ask her to sit in front of the wall.

2

Introduce the treat

Hold a treat just above the light switch and tap it to the wall. Encourage her to bring her paws up to reach the treat.

3

Give her praise

When she reaches up the wall, give her the treat and tell her she's a good girl. Keep practicing this step until she is comfortably reaching toward the treat.

4

Tap the light switch

Now tap the light switch with your finger and encourage her to tap it with her paws. Hold the treat out and when she touches the light switch, give her the treat.

5

Name the trick

Once she is touching the light switch without a problem, start to introduce the command "lights out." Say "lights out" just as she touches the light switch and before you treat her.

6

Move away from the light switch

Once your dog is hitting the light switch on command, move farther away from the wall and ask her to touch the light switch from a distance.

7

Practice with other switches

Make sure you practice with all the light switches you want her to turn off in the house. After some time, she might be the one conserving energy in the house.

The Sticky Note Method

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1

Teach her to target

The first step is to teach her to target a sticky note. She should already know how to "touch" your hand, so place the sticky note in your hand and ask her to touch it.

2

Start with the floor

Once she knows you want her to touch the sticky note, place it on the floor and ask her to "target" it. Give her a treat when she touches the sticky note. Keep practicing and moving the sticky note until she is consistently touching it when you ask her to.

3

Move to the wall

Place the sticky note on a wall, not too high to start. Ask her to target the note now on the wall.

4

Move up the wall

Continue to move the sticky note higher up the wall until she begins to jump to reach it. Make sure to praise and treat her each time she gets it.

5

Start with the light switch

Once she's comfortably jumping to reach the note, move it to the light switch and ask her to touch it. Give her lots of praise.

6

Introduce the command

Begin to introduce the command "lights off" each time she jumps and hits the light switch. Give her treats after each successful jump.

7

Take away the sticky note

After she associates "lights off" with jumping up and hitting the switch, remove the sticky note. Give her the command and excitedly direct her to hit the light switch. Give her lots of praise and treats when she does.

8

Try other light switches

Once she can turn off the light switch on command, move to the other light switches in the house and practice. Soon she'll be able to hit the lights anywhere in the house.

The Clicker Method

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1

Load the clicker

Load the clicker by pressing the button and immediately giving your dog a treat. Do this 20 to 30 times so she knows that a clicking sound means that treats are coming.

2

Chase a laser pointer

Use a laser pointer to get your dog's attention and flash it on the wall.

3

Click and treat the laser

When the dog puts her paws on the wall to get the laser, press the clicker and then give her a treat.

4

Move the laster up the wall

Start to move the laser up the wall. Each time she touches the place where the light beam hits, click and treat her.

5

Move to the light switch

Move the laser to shine directly on the light switch. When she jumps up and hits the switch, press the clicker and give her a treat.

6

Only reward a light switch touch

Begin to only click and treat her when she hits the light switch. Don't give her a treat for touching anywhere else on the wall.

7

Introduce "lights off"

Start to introduce the "lights off" command by saying the words right after she hits the light switch and before you treat her.

8

Remove the laser pointer

Once she starts to understand "lights off," remove the laser pointer and just use the command. Click and treat her each time she hits the switch.

9

Move around the house

Move around the house, trying the command with other light switches until she can easily hit any switch when you ask her.

Written by Katie Smith

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 01/25/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

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