109th: Labour to keep alive in your breast that little celestial fire called conscience.
(this is the LAST of Washington's Rules! I hope everyone's improved his/her behavior as a result of this special service I've brought you!)
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Website of the Day
Looking for a gift for that computer geek friend of yours?
And a Merry Christmas to all!
Today's Search Engine queries:
CHRISTMAS LETTER. Once again, I've posted our Christmas letter on the Internet. It may not be as personal as holding it in your hand--but it's a lot prettier on the net!
DING DONG, MERRILY ON HIGH
15 December 2004
I'm feeling SO encouraged about this training business. Dave the Dog Trainer is right--Sheila is a poster child for the right method of training. And the pinch collar is a gift from the gods.
For those who aren't familiar with a pinch collar (I wasn't, until I started doing research on how to train Sheila), it's a metal collar with little prongs that dig into the skin.
Now when I first saw it, I thought how draconian! I couldn't imagine trying to deliberately inflict pain on a dog just to get it trained.
But Dave the Dog Trainer talked with me about it and how strong a dog's neck is (remember, a mother carries her baby around by the nape of the neck). He also put the collar on my arm and jerked it. I could feel it--it wasn't exactly pleasant, but it didn't really hurt.
For Sheila it's the difference of night and day. I take her outside with the collar on and she's a perfect angel. She walks by my side. When we stop, she sits. When I tell her to go down, she goes down. And all this without really jerking the collar at all. The idea is to get her out of the collar as soon as possible, but that it's safer and more humane than the choke chain I've been using.
I am very well aware that the problem with Sheila's training is me. One of the things I'm supposed to be doing concerns my tone of voice. An enthusiastic positive tone when she does well and a sharp "NO!" when she doesn't. Only I'm not the loud voice type and it's VERY difficult for me to differentiate between my soft "good girl" type of comments and my "no" comments. Especially not in public. So Sheila is pretty much doing this on hand signals and snaps of the pinch collar.
When we're at home, the collar comes off, but I leave the leash on her flat collar. Having a leash attached to her has made all the difference in the world as far as her energy level in the house is concerned. Walt points out that it calms her down instantly.
Dave the Dog Trainer said that a common mistake people make is taking the leash off too soon. I asked, incredulously, if he meant I should leave it on her 24 hours a day. He looked surprised, as if that was the dumbest question in the world.
"Well....YEAH," he said.
So the leash stays on. It does make it easier to pick it up to "encourage" her to go down when I ask her to, but she's being so good about it, that it's hardly necessary. We haven't had people come to the door since training started, but I can see that it will make a world of difference training her how to behave when I open the door if there is already a leash on her when the doorbell rings.
All that said, I have to remember that Sheila is an extremely strong-willed dog. There is a voice in the back of my head that tells me that she is doing all of this because she really has no choice. There is that leash attached to her. There is that pinch collar when we go out. She might as well do what I want her to do.
Whether this will carry over to voice commands off leash (which is supposed to be the end result of this very expensive little school we are attending) is yet another thing.
Take last night, for example. Now she knows what it means to go "down." She does it faster now, when she's on the leash.
So last night she wanted me to throw her ball. Another direction I've been given is that I'm supposed to be the one to initiate play and to get her used to the "go on" command, meaning "go away kid, leave me alone" (surprisingly, she seems to be quite good at that as well).
Last night she was off leash and brought me her toys to throw for her. I pretended to ignore her. What she really wants is to play tug-of-war, which is a big no-no. Tug-of-war days are over. The name of the game is me being top dog, and there is no way I can win a game of tug-of-war with her.
So, realizing I wasn't going to play her game, she left the ball in my lap and backed off. Well, this was good.
So I upped the ante. Now she would have to go "down" before I'd throw it for her. "Down!" I commanded. She stared at me. "Down!" I commanded again (already breaking the rules, because I'm only supposed to give one command and then jerk on her collar, but her leash was off).
We had this stand-off that lasted for a long time. The ball stayed in my lap and she continued to sit there defying me like a 2 year old. She would walk around, all the while watching me. Then she'd sit and look at me, the big silly grin on her face. Then she'd bring me another toy and drop that in my lap. I was getting a nice collection of toys in my lap.
Finally, she'd lie down and I'd throw the toy for her. We did this several times until she finally decided that it was just entirely too much work to do before I'd throw the damn toy for her, so she went to her bed.
So I don't know. I'm basically very happy about the obedient dog she is on leash now. And I realize that we are less than a week into the program, so I can't expect miracles. If she continues to progress at the rate she has been in this past week, there is hope.
So yeah--my emotions are "merrily on high"
(have you noticed I'm trying to stick with a "theme" here?)
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Continuing the exciting photos--here is