cruising through spring

I figure I’ve left the profane Obama ad up at the top long enough, so a quick update on life and puppyness: Yesterday was our first day with Sous’s pen taken down, and overall it went great. Leslie is mixing up frozen kongs for her every morning now, so she quite happily munched on breakfast in her crate for an hour and a half while we ate breakfast and prepared for the day. Walking on loose leash is really getting good now that we have started using a Gentle Leader head collar. It really only goes into action once or twice per walk, or if she feels like lunging at another dog or friendly person to greet them. Whenever she spontaneously decides to fall into a heel, we give her pieces of kibble, so she tends to naturally hang out there a lot of the time.
I’ve just finished reading Jean Donaldson’s Culture Clash, which is basically a rant against traditional dog training and a plea and explanation for more humane and realistic training and behavior modification. Even after reading Ian Dunbar’s Before and After Getting Your Puppy, which gives you basically the same philosophy in a more practical package but without explaining “why?”, I was very impressed by her viewpoint. There is so much magical thinking that goes on with dog training, and the more I banish it, the more success I feel like I have. Her book inspired us to tackle a few of the remaining nagging behaviors that we’ve been ignoring. For example, Sous pretty much hates grooming and gets very squirmy when we brush her. We’d half-heartedly tried to fix it by feeding her treats during the process, but our consistency wasn’t great. Yesterday we tried giving her one brush stroke, then giving her a piece of kibble, then another stroke, then another piece. Sure enough, by the hundredth stroke or so, she was happily standing there collecting food while she got brushed. This process counter-conditions grooming to be something she likes, and you are supposed to slowly ramp down the rate she gets food until she stands for a whole grooming session for one treat at the end. We’ll see.

On the more fun side of things, we’re in the process of training her to turn on our DVD player (which can’t be done with a remote control). We used the clicker and have managed to pretty reliably get her to go turn it on and off from a foot or two away with her nose. The next step is adding more distance so that she’ll eventually jump off the couch and do it. At that point I’ll be sure to post a video 🙂

2 thoughts on “cruising through spring”

  1. I played Beautiful Katamari all night and thought of you. Can’t you hear the Katamari theme song now? I like to sing it to Pene. 🙂 Perhaps Sous would enjoy you singing it to her.

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