Sunday, May 15, 2011

Intermediate Dorothy

Dorothy and I have had a few more training sessions with Perry from Philly Dog Training  For the most part, her training is progressing really well.  She still has days when she is not unlike a donkey, but she is now quite often like a Von Trapp child responding to the Captain’s whistle—albeit the pudgy girl walking in late with her nose in a book.

Dorothy’s walking continues to be the most frustrating, although we definitely do have walks where she walks perfectly the entire time.  But more often, our walks are half good walking, half starting and stopping.  In general these days when Dorothy does stop, she stops to sniff something on the ground.  But a few times per walk she will stop in a “I Am Decidedly Anti-Leash” kind of way, and then she is like a tiny steed rejecting the bit.  She kind of stomps her hooves, and tosses her head and snorts through the nose, all while refusing to move forward an inch.  At these moments, I feel like I should offer her a sugarcube on the palm of my hand.  But the mood always passes.  All of a sudden she remembers that if she walks forward, she might get a treat.  So she resumes her trot, which she does while looking up in my face and making eye contact so that I will not forget about the treat.  I do not forget about the treat.

We’ve been working on “leave it”, too, which she pretty much knows now (as compared to “drop it” which is a concept that she pretends not to understand).  Perry taught me how to introduce Dorothy to the “leave it” command.  I get a handful of her normal dinner kibble in my right hand, and then a more tempting treat in my left, along with the clicker.  I’m to open my hand of kibble near her nose, but say “leave it” at the same time.  When she turns her head away from the kibble, I click the clicker and give her a piece of the tasty treat.  Once Dorothy learned the rules of this game from Perry, she decided to take it one step further, so that now, when I offer her the kibble, she snake crawls backwards away from it, to show just how much she is Leaving It.  In the dust.  She has never seen that kibble before, doesn’t know it, never spoke to it, had no relations with it, etc. etc.  See her leaving it!  By this time, I am offering her the tasty treat, while giggling.

She is also doing very well with her “Place” command.  When I say “Place” and point, she is supposed to go to her bed.  She will almost always now run to the bed and lie down.  So I have started to shake things up a bit by moving her bed around to different places in the apartment.  It is really funny to watch her figure it out!  She will stand still and do some thinking, and then run off to the bed in its new spot and jump in and lie down.  Sometimes, of course, she will go to where it last was, and then try to get a treat anyway by doing a down-stay in the phantom bed.  And sometime this works (because she looks so cute!).

Perry also taught Dorothy to come running to me when I make a kissing noise.  This is just a way to get her to come without over-using her name.  Perry taught her this in one session, and ever since, whenever I make the noise Dorothy comes running and gets a treat.  She will even stop chasing a cat and return to me, which I find impressive.  She’ll leave a cat alone when I say “leave it”, too, but at this point it is for the most part just a temporary leave-taking:  five minutes later will find her back tormenting the cat.

After Perry leaves, Dorothy is always exhausted from all the thinking, and full-bellied from all the proffered treats.  She always walks perfectly for a few days afterwards, and then some bad habits start creeping in.  Perry is coming this week for another session, and one thing we need to work on is learning how to pass a sidewalk cafe.  It is hard to avoid them where we live, and Dorothy has learned that she can get admiration as she goes from table to table (not to mention savory foodstuffs!), so it can take us a good ten minutes to walk a half block.  I can pick her up, of course, but not much else will distract Dorothy from her public!

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