15 Weeks 6 Days- Math Homework

Oct 27, 2004 | Stitch's Story

Breakfast goes very well. We do 250X Stand, most from a distance of at least 3′. 25% of the time she’s freezing in place as the thought hits her, which results in some pretty silly poses. 50% of the time she’s deliberately stomping at least one foot – sometimes all four – into a position she likes and thinks will get her the kibble. From a show POV, it looks pretty good, but that’s just a passing comment. I’m not paying any attention to HOW she’s standing when I’m rewarding Stand, just if her butt’s up, her feet are down, and she’s not whining. 3′ away we can get 5 seconds with no trouble at all. In anything approaching a front position, we can’t do 3 seconds without whining and fidgeting. She offers Sit four times, always when she’s in front position. Now I can lure her backwards into a stand. Not pretty, but it means her body is calming down – her back end is connecting to her front end. It certainly wasn’t three days ago.

I need to understand in teaching future behaviours that learning one thing will blow other things temporarily out of her brain. From Sit she still remembers the Down cue, but from Stand she hasn’t got a clue what Sit means. Either I’m spouting Latin, or it’s a trick to get her out of Stand. That’s OK, I’m working on Stand right now. Am I going to have to do the Eye Contact from 3′ away as well? I better get new glasses.

Whining is boring. And it will NOT continue throughout her lifetime. I HATE whining. For lunch we do 100 Stands. I can lure her backward into a Stand, or have her offer them, tell her Stay, walk 20′ out and back, stay gone for 10 seconds, and she remains Standing. Quietly. Calmly. BUT if I walk out, turn and face her and stand still myself, she starts whining again. I think she’ll be an engineer when she grows up, not a philosopher – she needs to know the flow rate and diameter of the pipe, none of this “I Stand, Therefore I Am” nonsense for her. I use the cue about 90 times. I am so totally bored with whining. With Standing. With saying “OutSTANDing”.

Then we switch to Eye Contact. She’s forgotten Eye Contact. She stares at my left hand, stares at my right hand, lies down, stands, and doesn’t think of making eye contact until she starts whining. I click eye contact with whining X20. She remembers Eye Contact. Now I need to get rid of the whining, and I’m no longer afraid she’s going to give up or wander off, so I decide to let the whining extinguish. I sit with her in front of me, staring at me, whining. I put my hands out to either side (if she thinks she’s doing Zen at the same time, she’s got slightly less chance of whining). I close my eyes and sit there, inert. She whines. She whines harder. She prowls and whines. She barks at me. Finally she shuts up for a second. I open my eyes. She’s looking at me. I say YES and shovel three kibbles into her mouth. She looks at me again, Yes, 3 kibbles. She starts to whine, I close my eyes, she carries on. And on. And on. Finally shuts up. I open my eyes. She’s looking at my feet. I wait. She whines, I close my eyes. After awhile she shuts up again and when I open my eyes she’s looking at me. Yes, kibble.

150 kibbles. Maybe 80 yesses. She’s quieter at the end than at the beginning. I’m very glad I have a blog to write or I think I would watch TV instead of training the puppy. I CANNOT abide whining. We Will Live Through This.

Otherwise she’s perfect.

And it’s nice for me as a trainer – or at least as a human being – to see her, like a force of nature, going on with her life in spite of my hissy fits. She does what makes the click happen and she gets her kibble. She chases her tail. She gets her cuddles. She bites my wrist. She jumps up on her daddy. She wrestles with Scuba, rolls in the snow, chews on the furniture, and has the good manners to behave as if she doesn’t notice me sitting in the corner tearing my hair and gnashing my teeth.

Supper – I’m starting to think again. Again. I need to get her out from front position where SHE can think about what’s happening. I put her on the grooming table. I get her looking at my right hand as she would in a show stack. I lure her into a stand. I hold her tail up with my left hand, and I give her the cue Outstanding… and then I count out loud.

All this does the job. She assumes the position and stays there. I work up to 12 seconds while she stands slowly wagging her tail. She doesn’t whine, she doesn’t stamp her feet, she doesn’t swing her head, she just stands. As the time gets longer, the treats get bigger – at 12 seconds, she gets to eat 10 kibbles from out of my hand.

Then we start from 1 second again with me NOT holding her tail, and counting more quietly. No problem. Finally I put her on the floor, don’t hold her tail, and count almost silently. It takes us a little longer to get past 5 seconds, but we get up to 10 before we stop.

Then we do a little Sit-Down-SorePaw-Stand. She mostly remembers the cues tonight.

To finish the evening, Stitch, Scuba and I play a little game where I cue Scuba to Sit and Down and Stand, and if Stitch happens to be in the right position, she gets a kibble too. She gets a lot of kibble.

It’s a little scary. Scuba weighs 42 lbs and gets 1 cup of food twice a day. Stitch weighs 16 lbs and gets 1 cup 3 times a day.