Thursday, February 23, 2006

Day 217

Well, at least we got the sun back and it wasn't quite as damp/cold as Wednesday. Noticed that there is all sorts of green things starting to poke through the ground, so maybe there is hope for Spring after all.

Had a lesson with a couple who had insisted they only wanted lessons on how to use their newly purchased ecollar to stop their dog from chasing deer. I just don't have the words to tell how much I hate that. Here we have this very sophisticated training tool that can be used with the precision of a fine scalpel and some people only want to learn how to use it as a club. Then it turned out that the husband wanted to use it and the wife didn't. Gee, why am I not surprised? How do you deal with 18 months of warm and fuzzy, food and toys and never any responsibility style of thinking? Sometimes I almost feel as if I am really engaged in some sort of deprograming/undo the brain-washing project instead of training dogs.

After I listen to why they(she) doesn't want to have to shock her dog and watched her become more and more unhappy about not being allowed to pet or coddle or talk the dog I finally got to point out that the dog was now lying calmly and quietly on the floor right beside them. There was no tension, no fidgeting, no panting, just a calm and relaxed dog. So I said, "Now can we move on with the training?"

After it was firmly established that this mean and nasty ecollar was no big deal and that either one of them could comfortably hold it in their hand while I SHOCKED them, they both agreed it wasn't a shocking experience after all. The lesson proceeded, we moved outside. Dog got worked. Dog worked just fine. Dog started coming when called even when there were other dogs teasing. Lesson ended. Dog got put back in the car and we went back in the house for a final wind up.

I get to hear, "but when do we get to praise her?"

"DUH?" That question never ceases to stump me. "What do you think was going on when the side of her head was gently stroked?"

"Okay, but when do we get to really praise?"

"Oh, you mean throw a party, hoot and holler, jump about and clap your hands." yup, that was exactly what was meant and my answer was to say, "What was your totally worst subject in collage?"

The answer was, "Math."

"Oh. That was my worst subject and it still is. So okay, you are in your math class and struggling to figure out a problem. You have just reached the point where you are getting it right. The professor comes up, looks over your shoulder and seeing that you are on the right track, gently pats your shoulder twice and in a low whisper tells you you are on the right track and to keep going." With that I jumped up and demonstrated by playing the part of the professor.

Then I said, "Now what if the professor comes up, looks over your shoulder, sees you are starting to succeed and begins to hoop, holler, leap about, clap hands and shout to all the rest of the class", and with that I start jumping around, clapping my hands, slapping her on the back, shouting how great a job she is doing and the I stop. "Does that sort of praise make it easier for you to learn and remember?"

I received a look of horror and a look that said very clearly, "that was awful and I might leave the room." Actually she looked like that is exactly what she wanted to do. Of course that was my point and I asked if maybe there was a chance that the dog might feel exactly the same way. The light went on in her eyes. Glory! Hallelujah!

And then I just couldn't resist, the bad side made me do it. I just had to ask how the past months of training had made her feel. This question needed some interpretation and then came the answer.


Lesson over and owners scheduled for at least two more lessons, the day moved on.

Next was a Photo-Journalist who came to do the beginning interview for a piece he is working on. At least Sanity managed to go to her place when told. Of course, with her current mind set that meant she went to her place when told about 20 times. Seems that the idea of staying there has leaked out and she thinks if she does a low crawl I won't notice or mind that she is now trying to sniff the guy's ankle UNDER his pants cuff. GRRRR! In between my sending her back to her place, there was Tyler. Tyler who was just totally convinced that he is just so cute he can jump up, paw and generally make a nuisance of himself. NOT!! In spite of the training that had to go on, the interview move along.

After a bit I put Tyler in a crate so we could go outside and so some stuff with the big dogs. Shoot, just about every dog here was better behaved that Sanity. Now the question becomes...will she live to see 1 year? Huh? Huh? Should I change her name to Insanity? Yes, maybe that will do the trick. The capper was when she actually tried to steal his camera. I don't believe her, I really don't.

Evening and class. The Photo-journalist is in the parking lot waiting for us when we get to class. He wanders around taking pictures of just about everyone and everything during the entire class. After I dismiss the Novice class the advanced students hurried up and set up all the jumps and gave him an chance to get some shots of the dogs jumping, retrieving and doing scent work.

By 9:30 when I am now back home and have Tyler, Sanity and Wrap out for a last walk I am about to fall on my face. Just don't understand why.

And before I forget, I moved Sanity back to the 1 o'clock/3 o'clock positions and think I will keep her there until she stops the fooling around. Actually, I just may start backing up and going back to positions she has already done. We will get to the 3 o'clock to 8 o'clock positions in good time. Gotta keep on reminding myself, "She is a puppy. She is a puppy. A pain-in-the-ass sometimes, but still a puppy."

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