Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Canine Curriculum – Middle School

( Note: When I first came up with my three-stage curriculum, I toyed with a variety of titles. One trio that I didn’t choose was “The Managed Dog, The Controlled Dog, and The Willing Dog”, as I disliked how they objectified my students. That doesn’t mean I disliked like the terms themselves, so don’t be surprised if they crop up now and then.)

Wow - time sure does fly. My little bundle of fur is fast approaching two years old and his Uncle is now six! I think it’s fair to say that both passed Primary School, and if they never learned another thing they would still be fine family dogs.

But where’s the fun in that?

So, having mastered the fine art of not destroying my home (usually), each other, or me in Primary School – what’s next? Why, Middle School of course. Of all my years in school (I am a college grad) I disliked Middle School/Junior High the most. It was an awkward time, where I found myself too old to be a child yet too young to be anything else. Thinking about my youngest charge, I find eerie similarities.

My Canine Primary School graduate’s behavior in the confines of a carefully managed home has reached a level where it is easy to be lured into thinking he is more skilled than he actually is. He knows how to sit and down and stay, but is not ready to do so with serious distractions – and let’s face it, if it wasn’t for distractions I really wouldn’t need him to be sitting, lying down, or staying! Physically capable of doing many things, he lacks the control (by me or himself) to be expected to do them reliably or seriously.

My goal for Middle School is teach my student this all-important self-control. Stay means stay, even if a roast beast falls at your feet (or mom puts a tennis ball on your head!) Same goes for sit and down.

In Middle School, many of the skills now considered routine in the home (those sits and downs and stays) are trotted out into the public arena. While I expect a Primary School graduate to not jump on people, I expect a Middle School graduate to politely hold a sit if told to do so. (I expect a Secondary School graduate to willingly sit without being reminded. One can always dream…)

As before, all work and no play makes everyone dull. Through Field Trips and Extracurricular Activities, I hope to enrich my dogs’ lives with new experiences and the opportunity to try new things.

If all goes well, my Middle School graduate will move on to Secondary School, where I hope he learns to willingly offer appropriate behaviors at the appropriate times. No more nagging from me, yeah! If he makes it that far, then where to go next is only a matter of our mutual interests. Rally, Agility, Freestyle – so many opportunities!

But I am getting way ahead of myself. For now, I will endeavor to make our journey together as enjoyable and rewarding as possible.

As always, clicking on the image takes you to something more readable.

 (Final Note: The Middle School Extracurricular Activity Requirements will be uploaded in the near future. There just wasn’t enough room to list everything on one page.)

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