Sunday, June 20, 2010


I know what you're thinking - that I'm going sit here and lecture you on the evils of ruts in your training...

... and you would be wrong.

I have no doubt there are times when ruts are evil, like when the dog is sooooo bored training the same exercises in the same order in the same way that they could practically do them without you.

(actually, I have no experience at all with a dog like that. Both my boys are more than happy to be little repeat-a-bots so long as they understand the job and are getting paid, but I'm sure such dogs exist out there... somewhere.)

No, today I'm thinking that ruts are darn wonderful.

Ruts are what make us do the same thing, over and over, even when we don't want to. Brushing our teeth is a rut. So is flossing. (It takes me 2-3 months of willpower to get in the flossing rut, but once there my day just isn't complete without it. Unfortunately, it only takes me a few days to fall out of the rut, hence my knowing how long it takes to crawl back in it.)

Today I saw the glorious benefit of a training rut. I have been working with Zachary (who wouldn't know a rut if it swallowed him whole) for ages, trying to get Level Two (On The Road) - Loose Leash for Level Four (remember that Level Four requires all Level Two items to be done someplace the dog hasn't been before,)

This isn't Rocket Science, here, this is the dog hanging out with you for a minute without making the leash tight. That's it. Of course, Ten Seconds Zachary doesn't "do" duration events, and therefore working on this has been a major drag.

He'll do it in the house, or around the house, but as Doing Nothing just isn't his thing, Doing Nothing when we're Somewhere is really not his thing.

So, after failing (miserably) for a very long time (don't ask how long) I finally had an idea.

(actually, I had lots of ideas during that very long time, it's just that none of those worked...)

Anyway, I decided that any time I was walking Zachary alone (sans Hubby and Beau) I would stop at every street corner and just stand there. At first, we stood for just a second or two (and even that was painful) but soon we were able to build up to 5, 10, 20, 30... seconds and more.

This is where the rut part came in. No longer was training a 1 minute loose leash some dreadful activity I had to drag myself outside to do. Instead, it was just a natural reaction. Hit a street corner, pause, keep walking. Sometimes I paused just a few seconds, sometimes I paused for much longer, but by making it a rut it seemed... not so bad.

Today, I am very pleased to say that Zachary stood calmly, patiently, for one whole minute with me while six teenage boys where yelling and playing basketball (with not one, but two basketballs) not so very far away.

Zachary was calm.

And so tonight I'm thinking ruts are pretty good. I'm also wishing I had brought my camera to commemorate the moment so I could cross the stupid thing off the list, but alas it wasn't meant to be.

No matter, I'm confident that when I do video this On The Road, Ten Seconds Zachary will have no trouble getting a passing grade.

Footnote: As an easter egg of sorts for those brave souls who made it this far - I have created a web site dedicated to Canine Homeschooling. As it is only a few days old, it is seriously lacking in content (but not intent) so feel free to stop by and take a look. Just remember that I have hopes of expanding it greatly over the next few weeks: There's even a spot for comments at the bottom of the main page.

1 comment:

katie, Maizey and Magnus said...

YAY Zachary! this is actually something we do as we live in the "big bad city" with lots of "big bad busy streets" so i hope it will help them learn to be "street smarter". Plus it seems I do my best training in practical situations.:)