Saturday, January 2, 2010
Here we go!
Today I'm starting my first blog ever, and it's not really about me. This is a story about a girl and her dog.
Joe is my 3 year old Australian Shepherd. He is my companion, my source of joy, and he and I are on a mission. For Christmas I received a gift (one that I hope will prove very fun, and useful), of a dog training book called "101 Dog Tricks" by Kyra Sundance and her dog Chalcy. The mission is this: Teach Joe every trick in the book, literally. Some he already knows, the basics, like sit, lay down, shake, and a couple extras like roll over, crawl, jump in my arms, and peekaboo. All of which he has learned very quickly and is very eager to perform.
We're going to skip some of the background and dive right in.
The first "trick" I'm teaching Joe is called "Place", it's not the first in the book, actually it's on page 166 and in Chapter 10. But it's an "easy" one, difficulty level= one paw, and it's one I want Joe to know.
The Trick: Have your dog, starting in front of you, circle behind you to the right, and sit on your left side. The book suggests that you start with your dog on his/her leash. So armed with my dog's leash, and three Kraft singles I'm ready to start.
So, to begin Joe is excited to see his leash in my hand. You kidding me! It's December in western Washington, Joe hasn't seen his leash in weeks! Once the leash is on, Joe is exceedingly excited because apparently this night time walk we're about to take also involves cheese! Here goes nothing. Joe eagerly sitting in front of me, probably thinking "Oh man I have my leash on, best night ever, gonna do whatever it takes to get that cheese out of her hand!" I start the training. I follow the steps and say the cue. Joe is doing everything right that's completely wrong. His ears are perked up, he's barking, he's up, he's down, he's rolling around, he's up ever higher, and tangled in his leash.
Now I'm thinking, wow this is going to be harder than I thought. I continued saying the cue, and literally dragging him around me, thinking there's something wrong with this. So I refer to the "directions" as if I'm putting together a complicated piece of furniture and have two nuts left. Except this time the nuts are my dog and I.
Under troubleshooting in the book, it's says "I feel like I'm just pulling my dog around me", hmm sounds helpful. The tips are encouraging, there's a light at the end of the tunnel. I guess dragging him is okay right now, til he figures it out on his own, Joe doesn't seem to care, he gets cheese at the end no matter what!
After more practicing (which is really me feeling frustrated, but laughing, and glad to see how willing joe is to please me) Joe starts circling around me! We've only been working on this for about 10 minuets! My dog is the smartest dog ever!! Sweet, so the next time I ask he's really gonna do well! Nope. He dove towards the cheese in my left hand when he's supposed to be going to the right. Great. I started putting my left hand behind my back holding the cheese treat to encourage Joe to go around me, and not through me. After some more practice we're back on the right track.
Now that we're doing "okay" I decide lets try it without his leash! My dog is a genius right? This was a little more challenging, but after a few tries asking him, and giving him the hand cue Joe, very quickly, circles behind me and sits on my left! He did well! I did well! So that's is for the night. I figure we'll spend a couple more days, and a few more Kraft single perfecting our "place" skills, before we move on to bigger and better tricks!