Friday, November 9, 2007

Training Week 2, Days 3 and 4

You see? This is what I get for not writing every day - CONFUSED. I did get Pete out on my birthday for some short leash work - tempt and about turn, right and left turns, pace changes. It's really kind of funny - you know your dog has learned to watch you when he starts catching himself in mistakes, especially those of inattention. For example, we'll be walking along, he'll see something and forge slightly ahead and then quickly snap his head around to look at me as he practically jumps back into heel position, even before I have a chance to react. Hey, let's face it - I'm not as young as I used to be, nor am I as quick. That stuff you learned in driver's ed - that your reaction time lengthens as you age - is TRUE. And it's a source of infinite frustration for me. And there's really not a whole lot you can do about it. I know. I've tried. And being a bit emotionally discombobulated doesn't help, either. But I digress....

Yesterday we introduced the sit command into our heeling work. Like many dogs starting obedience training, he does know the sit command, but it's important at this step to position your dog's sits. Why? Because it's not just about a butt on the ground. It's about the dog yielding to your positioning of his body, and it's about him sitting in heel position, which is with his front leg exactly in line with the outside seam of your pants leg. You can't get either with treat luring, or with an independent sit response. Positioning the dog doesn't give him the chance to sit wrong.

"But you're a control freak!" you say. Yes, I am. If this puppy is going to be out in public, perhaps waiting in checkout lines or riding in elevators with my mom, he has to learn to sit exactly next to his handler, close and straight, to avoid being stepped upon. Think about that. And by tucking his butt, he's also learning to sit with his tail underneath him, not dangling out behind where it can be trampled. Besides, precision gives the dog's mind something to work on when you're out with him doing routine and boring things, or in distractive environments.

Good news... as we were making our trip around the block, as we passed the home of the two e-fenced Terrier-ists, the owners were immensely interested in what I was doing. I'm going over there Monday - might have a new client! LOL...

I was also able to introduce him to a neighbor across the street - a very nice fellow - and he saw kids on skateboards for the first time. Pete learned that rather than fretting about the skateboards, he should be thinking about WHEN TO SIT. Hmmm.... Perhaps that's part of the wisdom of this method. Whaddyathink?

A New Place

Last night I took him to the dog club for the first time, as I was teaching a very small advanced class. I picked up Mom so she could spend some time with Pete. She is such a nice, friendly person, it's really hard for her to "get" the "sit on the leash" exercise. Hah... I left her sitting on Pete's leash with instructions of "No talk, no touch, no eye contact," and began calling heeling patterns for the students. Then I heard Pete gagging. I look over - there's Mom, and there's Pete - IN HER LAP - with her still sitting on the leash!! Arrrgggghhh....

That's where my INNER BITCH takes over...


"But he wanted..."

"I DON'T CARE WHAT HE WANTED - PUT HIM DOWN!" Yikes... Now you know why *I'm* training this dog. No time to explain that she has just taught him NOT to lie quietly at her side in a public place.

Later, we went to her house for a while and I told her NOW you may INVITE him into your lap if you wish - if you really think that a 55-pound dog belongs there. Personally, I think there is a time and place for that, and that's at home. Only.

We let Pete explore the house, and Mom got another important lesson. My challenge with her is going to be keeping her from letting him get fat. I think it's her Italian upbringing - overfeeding = love. You should see my baby pictures! On second thought, no. Anyhow, she likes to give dogs treats after a potty outing, so, fine. After we walked Pete and Rascal, she gave both dogs a treat. Then she wanted to give another one. I said OK, but that's it. She heads for the refrigerator and takes out a half of a roasted chicken and broke off a bit of breast meat.

NO - NO - NO - NO!!!!

"Oh, come on.. just a little piece..."


Mom: But Rascal likes it...


After a few rounds, I said "Look... if you want to take this dog out in public, especially to restaurants, he HAS to know that YOUR food is OFF LIMITS. If he thinks your food is his, you may have to correct him in public and all your friends will think you're a MEANIE. And all because YOU taught him to beg for YOUR food."

I think she got it, but I don't know. Sometimes she seems to grasp a concept - or maybe she gives me lip service. But at least she got a more appropriate treat for him, and I impressed upon her that he must SIT and sit nicely before any treat is given.

Maybe I should get him a bandanna that says "I work for food...."

Training mom is going to be much harder than training the dog. At least I know that Pete listens to me!

No comments: