Monday, December 12, 2005

Day 144

Monday morning and I wake up feeling like my throat is on fire and my head is pounding. This turned into a very long day. It was too cold and uncomfortable outside to work which forced us to bring both Newfies inside and confined our work to the studio. That studio is just barely ok when you are working with a small to medium sized dog. Put two huge Newfies and a Dobe plus two humans in the same space and it seems to be no larger than a small closet. The end result being that Sanity and Leo never did get a play session in.

While I call the sessions play, they really are more about both pups learning how to handle their bodies while around a breed that is much larger or much smaller as the case may be. The long and the short of it ended up being that they didn't get to do what they normally do on Monday morning. Then by late afternoon I realized there was no way I could teach the evening class. However, one student somehow didn't get the message. So I tell him he can use the studio and just do his own thing. Ok, that works.

Meanwhile, I figure since I'm already there I might as well go ahead and do a few retrieves. Bad, bad, bad move. My not feeling good and having a super weak, squeaky voice triggered the "I'm not working for you cause you aren't a leader right now." I know the kind of temperament I like in an adult dog means there is always a rough and rocky phase from about 6 or 7 months of age to 15 to 18 months of age. I get challenged for my right to call the shots, make the decisions, give the commands at least a dozen times a day. Under normal conditions I suspect it is a large part of what keeps me on my toes.

Monday was one of those times when I not only didn't have any toes, but was figuratively walking on my knees. I toss the dumbbell about 4 feet out in front and give the fetch command. Sanity cuts me that sideways look and starts to saunter out of the room. NOT! Ok, so I made the correction and the battle is on. I got the entire gamut of refusals. The screaming, "I ain't a gonna do it." trick. The slit-eyed glare, body locked, "you can't make me" number. The limp puddle of "oh woe is me on the floor" trick. And the one that always gets me, the "go out pick it up and come back to spit it out at my feet instead of giving it to me" routine.

Finally, it dawned on her that even sick and with a mouse voice I was still going to insist she do the job she was told to do. So out she flies and back she comes with the dumbbell. Good girl, and not being a total fool I quit while I was ahead.

I have a major gap in the training and now I am going to have to back up and see if I can figure out where I went too fast. Glad to find the gap now rather than when she is working at 15 to 20 feet away from me.


  1. Why do you call it a gap in training rather than just a dog who enjoys challenging authority? I'm curious becuase I have one of those dogs too, and I've assumed that he is always going to have to be reminded that I really am in charge. Am I looking at it wrong?

  2. Because what I was requiring should not have triggered that much resistance. The level of resistance told me I had moved her too far and too fast. Even though I backed up and simplified the requirements the battle lines had been drawn and so the problem had to be worked out.

    Notice that I quit the instant I was given a good retrieve. No taking of chances that I might get a second good one. I quit while I was ahead.