| Since Snoopy lives at ABC Dog School, he doesn't have far to go! In truth, a dog doesn't have to go to school to learn things. Training is occuring most of the time, right where he lives. In most cases, the dog is training the owner! Snoopy's education began the first day when I took him for a walk on the 15' leash. I equipped him with an equalizer, otherwise known as a prong collar, which is much easier on both of us. He's a strong dog.
The primary objective that day was for him to relieve himself. He was quite distracted by the new surroundings and went quickly to the end of the leash, at which time I simply stopped and allowed him to correct himself. He began learning right away that I wasn't allowing myself to be dragged hither and yon. After a short time he began to restrain himself somewhat, and did his business, too!
Each day that we go out with the 15' leash, Snoopy is learning more self-restraint. The first day that we went down the road (there's still a lot of snow in the yard,) we didn't get far, with all the stopping I had to do. It was an exciting adventure for him (or maybe he was trying to figure out how to get home from here,) and he found it difficult to remember to use his brakes. The discovery of a certain law of physics, that when my end of the leash stops his does, too, gave him some incentive.
The second day, we got much farther down the road, and on the third day, there was a new development. When I stopped, Snoopy came toward me and waited nearby until I started out again! I looked down at him and he glanced up at me as if to say, "Are we goin' somewhere, or what?" He's spending more time in closer proximity to me, and I can see that no matter how interested he is in exploration, somewhere in his head there is a thought, an awareness, that the person at the other end of the leash should not be forgotten.
(When using a prong collar, there is a tolerance level at which the dog will keep the leash slightly taut, and one has a tendency to overlook this because it isn't uncomfortable. The problem is that the dog feels like he's in control. He's not learning to watch the handler and accept his/her leadership. He's also not learning to keep the leash loose, and as long as the handler is restraining the dog, the dog is not learning to do it himself. This is also why a retractable lead won't work. It's important to avoid any tension on the leash.)
At first, Snoopy was going right back to the end of the leash, but each day, he becomes more savvy about this, and by the fourth day, he was coming back to me and walking a few feet away. This is just what I want to see! I haven't yanked on the leash once. If I did, he wouldn't know why, which makes it meaningless and unfair to do it. I simply stop before he gets to the end of the leash, and if he keeps going, he runs out of leash rather suddenly. He figures out how to fix that problem!
I'm also not waving squeak toys and tennis balls at him, showering him with "happy talk," nor bribing him with treats in order to get his attention. I'm teaching him the pecking order, which he accepts as being the natural way of things. Snoopy goes boldly forth, exploring his surroundings, testing the breezes, hearing what I cannot hear, and he does it within the limits that I set for him, and he understands why this is so.
Our training sessions are shorter than the normal time of 30 minutes, so I'm spending more days on this phase. When Snoopy seems ready to go on to phase two, we will proceed with that, and there will be a surprising turn of events. More on this later....
|Snoopy Goes to School|
|~ ABC Dog School ~|
|Copyright 2004 Carole J Sulser|
It's been three years since SnoopDog came to ABC. He wasn't here long before I moved him upstairs from the basement. He gets along great with the other dogs and gave me no peace until I allowed him to snuggle up beside me on the couch. Training got stalled out with the arrival of J.D. and Reba, and mowing season (I mowed for other people.) His appetite came back with a vengeance. Unfortunately, he developed a problem with water...drinking gallons of it, and having little control over when and where it comes back out. Tests have ruled out everything but a brain tumor, so the present diagnosis is: boredom. Perscription: less water - more exercise!
|The beginning of the story...|