I had this bright idea that with all my free time, I could do some sort of terribly fascinating project and write about it. I would learn something wonderful, develop some fantastic skills, and have accomplished something, and you all would be glued to your computer screens, so entranced that you could hardly peel your eyes away from my retelling of my daily experience with this project…
Let’s just say that Day 1 of the project will not live up to that goal.
Here’s the idea: I am working my way through a dog training book with Daphne. Post-practice, I will regale you with the ups and downs of this amazingly interesting adventure. And, of course, by “regale you with… this amazingly interesting adventure” I mean “try to make it sound interesting that I taught my dog to look me in the eye for 1.5 seconds.”
Okay, but seriously: our dog is super smart. Really. I know I’ve talked about how high-maintenance she is, how she’s got a few issues and may or may not have nipped a child (one time! Just one time!), and how I for sure know what it’s like to have a dog who is reactive on leash. But. In spite of her being a little unpredictable in strange environments, she is actually pretty awesome and very smart: she knows at least 20 commands (I made a list and counted!) and can do at least 4 of them with 95% accuracy.
That said, she is still a bit neurotic, and she also has at least 16 commands that she does with accuracy that ranges from 60% to… well, let’s say that she’s capable of doing some of them, but not always willing. Or ever willing. Minor detail.
So the idea is that by working our way through this book, we can strengthen and reinforce skills she has, develop some new skills, give her a good mental workout, and help us bond and learn to communicate better. The more she trusts me in the house, the more she’ll trust me out in the world, and – fingers crossed – the less reactive she’ll be.
The book we’re working with is Click to Calm: Healing the Aggressive Dog by Emma Parsons. I originally noticed the book at a small local bookstore a few years ago because it was the only book that utilized clicker training; I ended up buying it after recognizing some of Daphne’s reactive tendencies and realizing that Turtle was no longer comfortable walking her without me there. We read through it and boosted our own confidence, but didn’t do much beyond that at the time.
Now, I plan to go through the book and practice every single thing that Daphne hasn’t already nailed. For example, she has “sit” down pat. She sits for everything: before eating, before going through doorways, before getting in or out of the car. Nothing in life is free, but it’s all easily purchased for the low, low price of Sit.
Anyway, as I mentioned at the beginning of the post, today we worked on “look,” which is a command to make eye contact. It’s much more useful than it sounds, but it also sounds pretty boring. Suffice it to say that she is now pretty good at making eye contact for 1.5 seconds. Hopefully the tricks get more exciting, the progress gets more worth talking about, and you are fascinated by me talking about my dog. Because I’m unemployed, I think I want to do this for a living, and the internet is my playground.
This is almost definitely never ever going to turn into a mommy blog or a food blog… but it seems it might turn into some version of a dog blog. I hope you stick around. In the meantime, who wants to talk dog training? Are you in?