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WHO'S GONNA MAKE ME?
15 January 2005
It's time for a report on how Sheila's training is going.
She really has the hang of all these commands. She knows exactly what they mean and, as always, getting her to DO them is the problem. She's surprisingly good at "leave it," when I catch her going toward something she shouldn't investigate. She has the down - stay - come stuff down pat. And it comes in handy.
At night, when she knows I'm on my way upstairs to bed, she bounds up the stairs ahead of me, stopping on the landing and then at the top of the stairs to make sure I'm really coming. She then sits by the side of the bed waiting for me to get in so she can jump up and join me. (After she's on the bed, she slides up on her stomach until she's right up about to my shoulder and lies there while I skritch her stomach; as I begin to either drift off to sleep or get tired of skritching, she moves down to the foot of the bed, where she curls up in a ball and sleeps for the night. In the morning, as soon as she knows I'm awake, she slides up again to my shoulder and then rolls over on her back so I can rub her tummy. It's kind of a nice routine we've gotten into!)
But she figured out on her own that if she jumped up on the bed before I got in, I'd tell her to get off until I'd gotten in (because she sleeps smack dab in the center of it). So now she just waits until I get into bed. As soon as my body touches the bed, she jumps up, which means she is now ON all the blankets and I can't actually pull them over me, so my butt is usually cold (I'm such a wimp I haven't ordered her off the bed so I can cover myself up again!)
Now, we try the "stay" command. I tell her to stay while I get into bed and then once I'm in and covered, I let her join me. Much better.
Throughout the day, around the house, I call her to "come" and she does without hesitation. Sometimes I give her a treat, sometimes I just tell her what a wonderfully intelligent dog she is for coming.
Most of her good behavior is on leash. I often--especially if I'm expecting someone to come to the house--leave the leash on her and she drags it around behind her, which makes it easy to control her jumping on people and get her into a "down" position.
She has always been difficult to have around when I'm putting on shoes and sox. She has learned that when I put on shoes and sox, it means either that she's going out with me, or that she's staying home while I go out and I'll give her a treat before I leave. Shoes are a win-win situation for Sheila, so she gets very excited when she sees them.
Before training started, I got to where I would take out the vacuum cleaner and turn it on, so she would go outside, and just leave it on until I got my shoes on because it was just easier than trying to fight with her about leaving my sox alone.
But now she'll stay, right? Uh....not really. I put her in a stay and start to put the first sock on. She stays for about 10 seconds and then comes at the sock. I say "NO!" sternly, drag her back, make her stay again and she does it again. I finally figured out that this is a fun game for her when she broke the stay and then crouched down in a "come play with me" position.
That was a "sit-stay," so I decided to try a "down-stay." She goes down beautifully and then she does a sneaky stomach crawl until she's right under my knees, or she goes down and then rolls over on her back on top of my feet.
Today I took her to a new (to her) park (no dog park yet). I had the long (20-foot) leash so she could wander as she wanted, within a 20 foot radius, and we could practice "come." We also did "down stay" for a few times and she finally did get good at that, but she watches me like a hawk waiting for her command to get up.
As for "come," she came every time while on the leash. Sometimes I rewarded her with her favorite liver biscotti, other times I rewarded her with lavish praise while she checked my hands as if to say "praise? That's all I get?"
I was feeling pretty smug about how it was going until shortly before we got back to the car. I called her to come, and the leash fell out of my hands for some reason. The leash was slack, so it wasn't that she'd pulled it out and I didn't think she could even tell, but when I called her, she decided she'd start running away. Damn dog! Fortunately the lure of liver biscotti was too strong, at least for one time, so she came and I reattached the leash. Then as soon as I told her to heel, she did and we walked back to the car.
She'd been so good, I decided to take her to the "other" dog park--the one that is just an empty field covered with woodchips. I knew that wouldn't be as slushy as the usual dog park, and I kind of figured that there would be no dogs there and I wasn't sure I was ready to turn her loose in a park with other dogs yet.
The park had lots of large pools of standing water and she was so funny. She picked a route that carefully skirted all the water puddles. I have noticed that she doesn't really seem to like water and she usually gaves puddles a big circle.
But gradually she started gingerly testing the water with a paw, or checking something just under the water, and before you knew it, she had walked through one pool of water. After that, she was like a little kid. She didn't suddenly become a rabid water-loving creature, but she seemed to be making a concerted effort to casually walk through every pool. That was when I was sorry I didn't have the camera, because she was so cute.
She was, of course, off leash in this park. The first time I called her, she gave me that "yeah--you and who else is gonna make me?" look, knowing that she was not on leash. She eventually would come to me, but very, very slowly, head down, ears back--and only because she was hoping I'd give her a liver biscotti. I didn't even try to leave the park until she decided she'd had enough and went to the gate. I didn't want it to turn into a battle of wills, and I had no pressing engagements to get to.
I still haven't decided who is training whom. At this point it may be a toss-up. The next visit with the trainer will probably be in a week or so. This is supposedly when we start working on off-leash stuff. I am very skeptical, but based on past performance, I know Sheila will behave beautifully, as long as the trainer is here, and then look at me and laugh after the trainer leaves.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
I truly hate ants!!!!!