Front #1 – As slow as Honey dripping off a spoon
When I announced my goal for Train Your Dog Month, I got some great advice. The most important was that I couldn’t go too slow.
We’ve taken the wheels off the bike trailer and it’s sitting in the living room like a dog crate. Believe it or not, we did this when Honey was a puppy but I eventually got too impatient and rushed things.
Not this time.
Honey gets her dinner near the Doggy Ride. If she looked in the direction of the cart, I clicked and tossed her a morsel of her food. Then I stood there while she figured out what to do next.
Once again, if she looked at the cart I marked her action with a click and tossed a tidbit away from the cart.
Sometimes, after being rewarded a few times for looking at the cart, Honey will wonder if there’s something else she should be doing. She runs through her standard behaviors:
- make eye contact,
- lie down,
- spin in a circle.
As I ignore everything else, Honey eventually turns her attention back to the cart.
On her own, Honey decided to start putting her head into the front of the cart. Which, of course, solicited a click from me and some more food. Boy, has she got me trained?!
Taking a step back
I became overconfident when I saw how happy Honey was to put her head in the opening of the cart. I decided to try having her sit and stay near the cart while I gently jiggled it.
No way! As soon as my hand touched the cart, Honey broke the stay and cowered.
Now we’re practicing different behaviors near the cart without me touching it at all. After all, as I was advised by that Coonhound Lady with a fraidy dog of her own, when you think you’re going slow enough, slow down.
Front #2 – How do you train someone bouncing around the room?
We’re also watching a foster puppy for the Tompkins County SPCA.
The little guy (about 8 weeks?) was found wandering loose downtown. The SPCA decided he’d be better off in foster care while they were waiting to see if his family would claim him in a week.
On Monday, I’m taking Buster (he just reminds me of a Buster) back to the SPCA where he’ll get a temperament test and be made available for adoption. I don’t think he’ll be there for long. As you’ve seen, Buster’s a very cute puppy.
Puppies learn so much it’s hard to know what you’re teaching them and what they pick up on their own.
For the short time we have him, I’m concentrating on small things that will make Buster an easier guy for his new family to manage:
- don’t poop or pee in the house (yeah, good luck with that one)
- the crate is a relaxing place to rest and it often has yummies
- there are better things to chew on than electrical cords and backpacks
But while we’re sitting quietly, I’ve also been working on something else with Buster. I hold his paws. I gently pull his toes apart and touch his nails. I play with his ears. I lightly tug his tail. I slowly rock him back in my arms and tickle his belly.
I’d massage his gums with my fingers but I’m really dependent on them for blogging and, you know… I’d like to keep them.
For those of you who have never raised a puppy, their teeth are like little razor blades. Imagine a cute, fuzzy shark and you get the picture.
Join the Challenge – It’s not too late
Teach your dog to sit on his bed while you’re making dinner. Or train your bird to perch on your head. Even something as simple as teaching your dog that sitting still while you look at her ears will gain her a piece of cheese is enough to enter you in the challenge.
Why should you join the challenge?
- There’s a cute badge you can add to your blog sidebar (look in our sidebar for the code).
- It will give you something to write about when you have writer’s block.
- You’ll get some new readers when you join the linky list that will be up starting January 31.
- Working with your animal will strengthen your bond.
- Oh yeah, and I’ll donate $50 to the animal cause of your choice if your name is chosen at random.
See? You don’t even have to meet some highfalutin goal or record a video of your progress. You just have to try.
To see who’s already signed on, keep a look out for the Something Wagging Train Your Dog (or cat or guinea pig or bird or goat…) Challenge badge.
Join the training challenge. You have nothing to lose but a badly behaved pet.