13 Weeks 2 Days- More Retrieving and Grooming

Oct 9, 2004 | Stitch's Story

For lunch I provide an old toothbrush, a tiny hairbrush, a clicker, a metal harness ring, a nylon collar, a big felt pen, a regular pen, and the three different dumbbells. I put them out one at a time and resolve to click five times for looking at each one, then see if I can get her to pick them up. I start with the three dumbbells, she runs out and picks up each one and brings it at least halfway back to me. When each one is close enough for me to pick up, I toss it back out. The second time it comes back, I switch to the next item. I don’t get to the five-count on anything before she’s picked it up and started it back toward me, and none take more than seven clicks to get back the first time and three the second time. Except the harness ring. This is the smallest item, and the flattest. It takes 18 clicks to get her to pick it up the first time. Even then, her pickups are tentative and shallow. She frequently forgets what we were doing and tries lying down or going to her towel. And she whines a bit. I end the ring session with ten rapid-fire clicks for noticing it or approaching it, then go back to the dumbbells for one more round.

For Pete’s sake, CLICK! Am I supposed to walk around with this stupid thing in my mouth all DAY?

We have an early supper. I catch her when she’s passing-out tired, asleep in the living room. We go to the dog room where I’ve put a piece of rubber-backed carpet on the grooming table. We spend 20 kibbles relaxing on the grooming table and doing puppy pushups – Sit, Down, Sit, Down, turn around, Down, Sit, Down. We have a little snuggle and a lick. Then we spend 15 on show stacking and 5 on hand Zen.

Then I ask her to lie down, and turn the clippers on. I lay the clippers on the table in front of her and feed her. The carpet does a good job of

As I’m writing this, Ron’s sitting in his big chair watching TV. Stitch just snatched an entire hamburger patty off his plate. She really IS a Portuguese Water Dog! Fortunately for her training, Scuba then stole it from HER. Now she’s mad, prowling and growling.

ahem. The carpet does a good job of cushioning the sound and vibration of the clipper running and she can even rest her throat on the clipper to reach the kibbles. Then I hold one back leg and shave it, a bit at a time. In between her toes tickles, but she tries hard to sit still, and I do the tidying with scissors. Roll her onto the other hip and do the other foot, one kibble at a time. At one point I sit back and look at this 12 wo puppy lying calming on my grooming table, a handful of kibble 8″ away on the table, while I shave her toes. Awesome.

Her muzzle’s tougher. We have to work first on lying down and letting me hold her head. When I can do that, I scissor the goober-hair out of the inside corners of her eyes and along the top of her muzzle. Then I start petting her muzzle with the sides of the clipper. Finally I can shave her chin, give her kibble, shave one side, kibble, shave the other side, kibble, tidy up, kibble. And still she’s lying calmly on the table. Unbelievable.

There are 12 kibbles left, so I turn on the dryer and spend 4 telling her the noise is no big deal. 3 trying to keep one safety hand on her, one feeding hand in front of her, and one hand just tapping her back with the air from the dryer. She glances back at it each time, but doesn’t have an opinion, so the remaining 5 I blow her jacket back and give her kibbles one at a time without holding her. Oh my goodness!

I’ve got a low barrier between the kitchen and the bathroom. This gives us lots of opportunity to practise something for each dog. For Stitch, not to jump up on barriers. It doesn’t get you through the barrier, and I don’t come back across until you’re Sitting and Staring. She’s got this down pat as a default. For Scuba, more reinforcement of the IDEA of barrier – a low table, a leash stretched across, an imaginary line – no matter what it is, you can’t cross it.