Monday, January 25, 2010

A new "leash" on life

I know... it's about time Joe and I work on our second trick. This time I wanted to be a little more prepared, and have a better idea of whats ahead of us.

The trick book contains 101 dog tricks; so when selecting a trick for Joe to learn I have to avoid the tricks he already knows. Pretty much any trick you would ever want your dog to know, is in this book, from "sit" to "roll a barrel" (that will be an interesting one to teach him). So, I thought it would be nice to count how many tricks Joe knows. Including his newest addition of "Place" (and based off how the book names and categorizes the tricks), Joe knows 17 tricks! We only have 84 more to go!

I will be the first to admit that I did not personally teach Joe everything he knows. I became Joe's owner just over 2 years ago. He was about 2 years old, and already very obedient and lovable. Some of Joe's standard built in features included sit, lay down, stay, fetch, give/drop, and come. Probably even more! Some extra tricks came to him naturally after a short time, like stand, shake, roll-over, speak, peakaboo, jump up, etc. It was very easy to teach Joe tricks at the beginning (and still is). In college I never had cable television, so Joe was my entertainment, and he took this task very seriously. He has brought me so much happiness, I'm so excited that he's mine for the rest of his life!

Ok onto the next trick! I'm am now beginning to teach Joe "Get your Leash." It's different than anything he knows, so maybe their will be less confusion, and I think it would come in handy!

So basically you encourage your dog to get his leash, by first playing fetch with it, and then you hang it up and tell him to get it. Sounds pretty simple! This time instead of using a treat to reward your dog, you take your dog for a walk to reward him! So I pull out Joe's leash, and again he is highly excited.

Then I learned something new, Joe CAN get even more excited about his leash. Oh boy. He already jumps all over the place when I bring out the leash, but when I throw it and say "get your leash" in a very excited tone, it's gets even more dangerous to be in a 5 foot vicinity of him! Besides the utter chaos, it was awesome, he ran after his leash, looked at it, then at me, and had a look on his face that said "No hablo ingles." Jose (his Spanish name, which I often use, along with Mr Joe, Mr Nubbin, Mr Smiley Face, Bud, Pup, My love, etc) had no clue what I was asking him to do. He has never known that it was ok for him to pick up his own leash. I got him as excited as I could about his leash, waved it around saying "get it" until he put his mouth on it.

I thought this was it! We've got it! I then put the leash on my door knob, so that Joe could get his leash on his own. After asking him, he stared at the door, barking. Very successful indeed. I realized before beginning this, that since the reward to this trick is a walk, this isn't a trick that can be practiced constantly and over and over, it's just not feasible. Once or twice a day is going to have to be enough for my schedule. So I took the leash off the door and waved it around until Joe took hold of it again. I decided that was good enough! We clipped the leash on, and off we went, to get the mail!

The story doesn't really end here. Of course this was about 4:30pm and it's January, so yes, it was raining outside. This doesn't matter to dogs though, not really. And Joe in particular gets really nice and wet, and dirty, probably making the whole experience better for him. I thought to myself, I started this trick and now I'm finishing! I let Joe have some free rein on the end of his leash, since he is such a good dog, and walked briskly to the mail box. Once nearing our house at the end of our voyage, Joe's arch nemesis began to taunt him. Yes, it was the laughing squirrel. This time it's right on top of the fence, for once in Joe's reach! Normally the diabolical creature teases Joe and Snickers (our Jack Russell) from the very top of the tree. Being that I always keep my dog in check when on his leash and never let him get into trouble, I hopped the ditch and let Joe have his chance! Of course the Squirrel swiftly scampered up the tree, and laughed!

It was one fun day for Joe and I, and I look forward to practicing some more tomorrow!

PS The picture above is from Joe's first trip to Ocean Shores... as you can tell he loves the beach.

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