Saturday, January 16, 2010

Problem Solved?

This week I worked on Retrieve, Training Level Four, holding an object for a few seconds.

Day One: I broke out a pair of new cotton garden gloves and took a seat. Beau is good at touching things and right off the bat he was whacking at my limp cotton garden glove with his nose. This was obviously too easy. So, having not read the instructions (bad teacher - no biscuit) I held the glove and ask Beau to “take it”, which he did… in his slobbery mouth… my thin cotton gardening glove… in his slobbery mouth.

You get the picture.

He took the glove, immediately dropped it, and demanded his cookies. We repeated this a few times and soon the glove was wet beyond belief. I decided to call it night and get a fresh dog and a fresh glove (handy that they come in pairs.)


Zachary also took the glove without issue. He tossed it into the air, gave it a few killing shakes, and then tried to give it back. Gee… uh… thanks. We repeated that a few times and soon the glove was wet beyond belief. Fresh out dogs and dry gloves, I decided to call it a night.

Day Two: This time I actually read the instructions and discovered I wasn’t supposed to let go of the object (glove) at all. My bad. Out came Beau, out came a (now dry) glove, and we began anew with me firmly grasping the glove.

Did you know... that holding a floppy thin cotton gardening glove at the same time as a wet-flewed dog holds the same floppy thin cotton gardening glove results in your hand getting really, really wet?

Out came the plastic cooking spoon. There is plenty of room for me to hold said spoon in relative safety while Beau touched and slobbered to his big heart’s content. Perfect. As Beau is a bit sensitive with regards to shaping, all we worked on that night was touching the spoon. Beau touched it a lot, he got a lot of cookies, and a good time was had by all.

Out came Zachary. Zachary also had no trouble touching the spoon. Zachary has no trouble with shaping, so after a dozen or so easy touches I withheld the click to see if I could get a bigger touch.

That is what the instructions said to do.

Zachary was supposed to touch the spoon. I was supposed to withhold the click. Then the instructions said Zachary was supposed to think something like, “Hey, stupid, I touched your dumb spoon, weren’t you paying attention?” Then he was supposed to give a bigger touch, so I could click and shower him with cookies.

This time, it was Zachary who hadn’t read the instructions.

When I withheld the click, Zachary abruptly ignored the spoon and looked up at me with his big brown eyes. He has gorgeous, dark brown eyes, with long blond eyelashes, and the sweetest, softest expression you can imagine. I had plenty of time to contemplate all this, because there wasn’t anything else to do. I sat there holding the treats, a clicker, and a spoon, while Zachary ignored all of the above and gazed up at me. Tick… tock… tick… tock…


I pointed to the spoon and he reluctantly nosed it. I click enthusiastically and the spell was broken. I clicked a couple more times for touching the spoon then decided to quit before anything else got broken.

Moving right along… Loose Leash walking.

Alas, it was raining that night so I decided to practice Synchronized Walking (aka heeling) about the Kitchen, instead. I grabbed some more treats, lured Zachary to my left side, and briskly stepped forward.

Zachary briskly stepped forward with me – really briskly – and then swung his rump around until he was right in front of me, walking backwards, all the while holding an unwavering gaze. I swear he was trying to hypnotize me with his gently swaying tail, “click and drop the cookies… click and drop the cookies…

Do you remember, not so very long ago, when I was bemoaning the difficulty in getting Zachary to look at me for Ten Seconds?

Looks like we solved that problem…

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