Now, on to the reason I joined this list. I have a question for you all.
I want to teach my dog, Jackson, how to balance a treat on his nose until I give him a cue that he can eat it.
How it's going so far...
1. I tell him to sit.
2. I say "Head down" and put my thumb on his head, just behind themoist part of the nose and press down just so that I can get his head level (so the treat will stay on it). Once the head is level, I ease up on the pressure, but still maintain contact with the fur.
3. I put the treat on his nose.
4. When I take my hand away, I also say "Okay" and he eats the treat.
The thing is that I don't want to have to always have my hand there.

I guess I could try to teach him to hold his head level first (without my thumb there), and then put the treat on his nose. That way, since my thumb wouldn't be there, I might be able to help him understand that the cue for eating is my words and not the motion of my "restraining thumb".
I'd love suggestions.
Pooch is a 2.25 year old lab.
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Now, on to the reason I joined this list. I have a question for you all. I want to teach ... nose and press down just so that I can get his head level (so the treat will stay on it).

Also: Standing in front of him, try using the "Y" between your thumb and forefinger and gently press down on the bridge of his nose with it.
Once the head is level, I ease up on the pressure, but still maintain contact with the fur. 3. I put the treat on his nose.

Here's where you can use a little help.
Put the treat on his nose with your off hand. Use your left hand to hold his muzzle steady (from underneath), and place the treat on his nose with your right hand.
Say something like "Hold it!", while pointing at him with the index finger of your right hand. Keep repeating it (and holding him steady) until he gives you a sense that he understands what "Hold it!" means.

When that happens, start removing your hand very slowly, still saying (and repeating) "Hold it!". Settle for a few inches at first. Then give him the release command, e.g. "Okay!".
Repeat, lather, rinse.
If he goes for it before you say "Okay!", just ignore it and start over again.
And when he finally "gets it," gradually move your hand farther and farther away each time, but still repeating "Hold it!"

Eventually you'll only have to place the treat on his nose (when he sees it, he'll probably just come right on over and assume the position") and say "Hold it!"
Actually, you won't have to say anything. Emotion: smile
Just put the treat on his nose.
He'll just wait for the "Okay!"
You should eventually be able to go into the other room, pour a glass of water, and return to see a dog with a treat on his nose (albeit drooling like an African Cape buffalo).

Handsome Jack Morrison
Don't mess with old farts!
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I taught my dogs "leave it" and placed the treat on their paws (when they were in a down position). After I could do that longer and from farther away consistantly, I moved onto the nose. I think they learned it easier having mastered the treat on paw first because the concept was the same. Maybe that would help if he doesn't already know the paw trick? good luck either way and have fun.
Now, on to the reason I joined this list. I have a question for you all. I want to teach my dog, Jackson, how to balance a treat on his nose until I give him a cue that he can eat it.

Nothing to add to the suggestions that you've received, except to counsel patience. Or get another dog who knows the trick to demonstrate it to your dog.
I don't remember how long it took for us to teach it to Dylan, our GSD, but it probably spanned a couple of weeks of short daily sessions.
Oppie, the Lab we got when Dylan was 3, learned it in a couple of sessions, but he had watched Dylan doing it.
Both dogs learned to flip the treat in the air on command and then catch it.
FurPaw

My family values don't involve depleted uranium.
To reply, unleash the dog.
Repeat, lather, rinse.

Make that rinse, lather, repeat.
No, make that lather, rinse, repeat.
No, make that repeat, lather, rinse.
Aw, screw it.

Handsome Jack Morrison
Don't mess with old farts!
http://www.breitbart.com/news/2007/02/22/D8NF5DGG1.html Obamination?
http://howardwasright.com/index.php/site/more/458/ The perfect island for Mel Shore!
nm/iran women island dc 1 John Murtha: Capo di tutti capi!
http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=19531
Both dogs learned to flip the treat in the air on command and then catch it.

It was easy to teach Khan to balance the treat on his nose. The flipping/catching is completely beyond him; he'd really rather just drop his head, have it fall on the ground and pick it up. That's where I gave up. That trick is no good without a jazzy finish.
One of the ways I taught him to keep his head level where the treat could be balanced was to have him 'watch' me. No need to hold the face that way.

Suja
That trick is no good without a jazzy finish.

I disagree. It is the tortured look of the dog that makes the trick worthwhile, not a fancy finish. Oh, not to mention the communication factor in teaching and perfoming the trick.
I disagree. It is the tortured look of the dog that makes the trick worthwhile, not a fancy finish. Oh, not to mention the communication factor in teaching and perfoming the trick.

I discovered last night that popcorn produces the most tortured look yet.

Also, I've never been able to teach Roxy to catch anything. With my other dogs, if I just threw things that they loved near their faces they would try and eventually learn to catch. Poor Roxy... with my good aim I've landed a few balls right smack on her mouth and still she won't grab for them until they hit the ground.
Last night I got to see this process in slow motion. After getting bored of torturing her with popcorn on her snout, I decided to try to get her to catch some. It floats so slowly that I got to observe how she squints her eyes in anticipation of getting smacked with it. She was shocked when the first piece hit her, obviously expecting something worse. I thought we might finally get her to catch something, but every single time I dropped a piece of popcorn (unbuttered for better floating), she would just squint and wait until it hit the floor. Hilarious!

Lynne
Also, I've never been able to teach Roxy to catch anything. With my other dogs, if I just threw things ... a piece of popcorn (unbuttered for better floating), she would just squint and wait until it hit the floor. Hilarious!

We have to teach Nemo how to catch. She is totally clueless and she lives with Bella, the canine catching champion of all time. We had to teach Doodle how to catch, too.
Popcorn was good for diagnosis and it was good for step two, but step one for us has been to get the dog interested in the treat and drop it from about 1" away from her mouth. Lots of repetition. When you get to 2-3" away, try the popcorn. Popcorn allowed Doodle to understand that she might have to move to catch something.
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