Is This Dog Crossing It Eyes?

This trick is a little creepy, but pretty cool. Some say it is fake, but whether it is or not it brings up a good training question. How would one train that?
I’ll admit that I have never even thought of training a dog to cross its eyes, but I can imagine how it might be trained. Being a “clicker trainer”  I can definitely see how the clicker could be used to effectively “mark” the behavior. But how would you get the behavior in the first place? Generally, all behaviors can be trained by luring, capturing or shaping the behavior. Since this behavior does not normally occur in a dog’s repertoire, I would think that luring it might be the best possible approach.

How To

I would begin with a treat far enough away from the dog that he focuses normally on it. When he looks at it, I would click and treat (but I would not give him that treat.) I would mark him focusing on it by clicking and treating while slowly and incrementally moving it to the side,up, down and closer and closer. I would be watching for the eyes moving only and not the head and only mark it with the clicker when the eyes move without the head moving. As I said, I have never tried it, but that would be my approach. When he is finally able to focus on the treat when it is so close his eyes cross,and he does this while holding his head still, I would add the “cue” simultaneous with the behavior. When he is readily doing this behavior and doing it consistently, I would start to ask it of him by using the cue before the behavior.
I have successfully trained two dogs to wink on cue. These dogs were older dogs, as is the Cocker Spaniel who crosses his eyes. I found that trying this with a very young dog was not successful, possibly because the cerebellum was not developed enough to allow this sort of fine motor muscle control.

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