It’s clear to me that Matilda loves doing weird tricks.
She loves the extra attention she gets when she’s painting or playing dead.
So, I’m always on the lookout for new, unique skills she can learn.
I’ve seen dog on TV do a seemingly complex trick where they roll up in a blanket, getting nice and wrapped up.
It seemed too hard, at the time. How could just any dog learn to do that? Not only do they have to do a complete roll (or two) to get the blanket around them, they have to hold onto a corner the entire time.
But if you break it down, it’s actually very simple.
Prerequisites For Teaching Your Dog To Wrap Herself Up In A Blanket
I realized that Matilda could do this by combining two skills:
It’s hard to communicate, “Okay, take this blanket, hold it in your mouth, and roll over so you get wrapped up.”
You really have to break it down even further than that.
First, you’ll have to make sure your dog is properly positioned. She should sit in the center of the blanket.
Then, she’ll probably need to wait for you to lift a corner of the blanket to her mouth. This is when you’ll say, “hold!”
At first, that’s all you need to do. Prepare her to hold the blanket for at least a few seconds.
Once she’s pretty good at holding the corner of the blanket while sitting on it, you can ask her to “play dead!” or “roll over!”
At first, she’s going to drop the blanket and roll. It can be tough for dogs, at first, to understand the concept of combining two skills.
Piecing Together The Roll
You don’t want to frustrate your dog, so it’s important that you find something to reward at least every 2-5 efforts. If she goes ten tries without a treat or a “well done!” she’ll do that huff.
Continuous reinforcement keeps training fun.
Look for those times when she spends just an extra half-moment holding onto the blanket. Give her a treat if the blanket lands on her back at all.
You probably won’t get a good roll in the first, or even the second training session. You definitely won’t be introducing the cue word “burrito!” just yet.
Keep using cues that she already knows. For Matilda, it was a sequence of “Hold… play dead… play dead.”
I noticed that if I encouraged her to keep “playing dead” after the first roll, she’d wrap up really nicely.
Once you start to see repeated, correct rolls, you can introduce your new cue word.
For Matilda, I decided to go with “burrito,” but you can try something like “roll up!” or “nighty -night!”
I still say “burrito” twice to get Matilda to continue rolling after the first turn. Though I could fade it out so I don’t have to say it twice, I think she needs some guidance.
I may sew a tag onto the underside of the blanket so I don’t have to grab a corner for her. In the meantime, she still gets a really cute effect.
Treats To Use When Teaching Your Dog To Wrap Herself In A Blanket
Practicing this trick involves a lot of tumbling, so using kibble or dry treats wasn’t really a good option. I wanted something wet and lickable so she wouldn’t have to stop to chew, nor would she risk choking.
I tried peanut butter, but it was too sticky, she needed 30 seconds just to swallow it.
I found that “Easy Cheese” spray can cheese works really well. It’s not terribly healthy, but it’s incredibly high value and well-deserved for this complex trick.
Kong makes “Easy Treat” stuff that’s like Easy Cheese for dogs, but it’s expensive and I’m not convinced it’s much healthier.
If you want something a bit healthier, yet still convenient, you can put sweet potato puree, yogurt, fruit puree or even canned dog food into a reusable squeeze tube.
Completing The Look
The effect just isn’t the same without Matilda’s burrito blanket.
Technically, it’s a baby burrito blanket from Amazon. It came with a little baby hat – I’ve yet to decide what to do with it.
It should be large enough for dogs up to 20 pounds or so. Cow could probably use it if she wanted to learn this trick, though she’d only be able to do one good roll.
For bigger dogs, there’s also adult tortilla blankets available.
As for the baby blanket, it’s really soft and warm, so we’ll be getting a lot of use out of it this winter.