14 Weeks 6 Days- Hamster Wheel

Oct 20, 2004 | Stitch's Story

I’m not happy with her Eye Contact. Of course any sane human being would be thrilled to have a 13 week old puppy who likes to Sit and Stare at them, especially since it’s a default behaviour that she does, for instance, when we’re eating, rather than jumping up and stealing our food. Nevertheless, I’m not happy with it. She’s a DO SOMETHING dog, and she doesn’t really excel at sitting around – not entirely true. She’s not good at sitting around when she feels that she’s in a position to be shaped to do something. So when we work on Eye Contact (especially since I taught her that kerflushinner trick), she wants to Down, turn her head, retrieve something, or throw those blasted paws at me.

So we start with just click-for-contact X30. Then we start doing Chutes & Ladders contact. We have to start over about 10 times, but we eventually get up to 6 seconds. It’s been a while since I tried the Get Lost game, so I stand up and try it. She still has no clue. She wanders off. She comes back. She stares at my hand. She whines. She Downs. She throws paws. A couple of times she runs all the way around me, but she still can’t find my eyes.

Welcome yet again to the Flat Forehead School Of Dog Training. I do most of my training sitting on the couch. Then I stand up so I can turn away from her. DUH. I need a transition… AHA! I get my walker and sit on it. Now my face is halfway between couch-height and standing-height, and my front (knees slightly bent) is noticeably different from my back, even from puppy-height. And DUH she gets it right away. GREAT eye contact. We do straight Contact X20, then from the 21st, I turn around. AND SHE COMES WHIPPING AROUND, LOOKS UP AND GRABS MY EYES IMMEDIATELY. Duh. By the time I run out of lunch kibble, she’s doing Contact X3, turn, Contact X3, turn. She isn’t holding my eyes when she’s coming around, but she’s at least starting her turn as soon as I start mine, and finding me immediately when I stop. Duh.

Then for several meals I need to get a life, so it’s a matter of just flinging food dishes at the dogs. While I’m outside talking to one of my 4-H kids, Scuba jumps the barrier from kitchen to dining room – which is OK – and Stitch knocks the barrier down and follows her – which is not, because one of the things in the dining room is a full bag of nice clean llama fleece. Wow, she spread it out about 2″ deep all over the rug!

She spends the rest of her day piling 6 squeaky toys, 2 empty Diet Coke cans, my Palm holder, two llama lead ropes, 3 meters of Velcro, a 5′ longe whip, three large boots, four mixed socks, a towel, a DVD box and the mat she finally got out from under the coffee table on the rug beside the computer, tossing them as far as she can, then gathering them up again. I may not have previously appreciated how much puppy energy is used up by thinking when we’re actively training. Ron just mentioned getting a huge hamster wheel.