15 Weeks 2 Days- Exam Time!

Oct 23, 2004 | Stitch's Story

This morning we start at the top of the list again. She aces the crate, goes in on cue. I’m reminded of sheep penning – doesn’t count if she goes halfway in and I whop her on the butt with the door! Then SitStay and DownStay – not good enough to pass the Level yet, but within 3 kibbles I can tell her, walk 20′ away and come back. The problem on the SitStay is she thinks she’ll follow me. The DownStay problem is she wants to sit up to meet me as I come back. We practise X20. Excellent.

Next, Zen. She’s terrific at this. She Drama Queens the cue again, so we spend X20 working on getting her closer and quietly watching or ignoring the kibble rather than running to the other side of the room and dramatically pretending she isn’t now nor ever has been on the same planet. Then (watch this, she’s great at this!) I turn a dog dish over, give the cue, and put the treat on the dish.

And she runs over and tries to grab it. Argh.

So we work X20 on Dog Dish Zen. Why did I put it on the dog dish? The point of this exercise is to put the treat on something at eye level. Now, the upside-down dog dish is too low, but OTOH the coffee table and the couch are too high. As soon as she realizes we’re Zenning the dog dish, she’s over on the other side of the room again, but by the time we’re done, she’s doing a brilliant, calm 5 seconds off my hand and 10 seconds off the dog dish.

Which reminds me, we’re using dog dish Zen in real life. When I feed the dogs (on the odd occasion when they both get a meal in an actual DISH instead of in training), I feed Scuba first: “This is for Scuba”, and Stitch sits eagerly while I put Scuba’s dish down. Then: “This is for Stitch” and she holds her sit while I put her dish down. Also she’s figured out that Sit and Stare at daddy is a better bet than trying to grab stuff off his plate.

My living room looks like I run a day care. Right now she’s playing with a plastic measuring cup and a metal measuring cup, carrying them around, tossing them, chasing them, wrestling with them. In the future I’ll be needing her to pick up anything I point her at, so I’m trying to introduce her to a vast variety of tastes and textures. Also in the middle of all her junk is an unplugged electric cord, with which we’re playing Electric Cord Zen. If she starts to put her mouth on it, I give her the Zen cue, then a cuddle if she asks for one. Usually she just veers off and aims for something else.

Exams for lunch. My kids are in college, the dog should be doing exams as well. We start with SitStay and DownStay. One voice cue to stay, and my index finger in “admonish” position, and she does both stays brilliantly, feet still, waiting patiently for me to return.

I put the basket out in the middle of the floor, use a voice cue to go around it, and she pops right on around it. We go downstairs and she runs around the pool-cue stand before I get closer than 5′ to it.

Back upstairs. I put her mat in a part of the kitchen where it’s never been before, go get the puppy. I ask her to Sit, c/t, then tell her to Go To Mat. She runs right to it and lies down.

I try Hand Zen and Zen with the kibble on the upside down dog dish, no trouble at all, so I try it on the coffee table too. Pretty silly, she lies down when I give the cue, and then she can’t see the food on the coffee table – but she could see it on the dog dish and she was certainly capable of seeing it there.

Two more for today. We go outside in the snow, and on out to the barn. Her one “mild distraction” for the one minute loose leash turns out to be one feral cat, two Muscovy ducks, three llamas, and tri-species delicious poop smells. She does great, although I could have done without her sucking the goose poop off the floor.

I haven’t got anybody to help me with the Come, and I can’t get her to stay in the barn while I walk 40′ away outside. It might work if I tried to get her to stay outside, but it’s bloody cold and windy and her poor little butt is shaved, so I dumped a handful of kibble on the floor just inside the door, ran outside and across the yard, and waited for her to finish the food, then called her. She galloped over to me across the yard. What a pretty sight!!

We had a little bit of lunch left, so we worked on a less enthusiastic paw-lift. I think we’ll call it “Sore Paw” – oh, poor puppy, do you have a sore paw?

So only four Level 2 behaviours left – we have to get the trick on cue, teach her to Stand, and get the Eye Contact up to 10 seconds. She’s 14 weeks old. What an amazing thing is clicker training. What an amazing person is my baby Stitch.

Supper’s easy – 20X Sore Paw, then 180X standing. She works through superstitiously turning her head, pointing east, touching a chair, being on the rug, being on the tile, being close to me, being far from me. Standing – naw, couldn’t be THAT easy! I start clicking for her butt not being on the ground, but by the end of the session, I’m clicking 4 quiet feet, butt up, and head raised.