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Friday, September 15, 2006

Pit Bull Graduate

Honey has completed her Intermediate Training class and I have a certificate on the refrigerator that proves it. In dog world, it's not a huge deal but don't tell her that. For her final, Honey played "Simon Says" with her classmates and they went through the commands they've mastered. It was like a synchronized dance music video, all the pups moving in step with each other while the owners clicked and treated them through it - clicker training is a really easy, positive way to train a dog. What was kind of surprising (or maybe not, actually) was, when they were demonstrating the commands separately, each of the dogs stumbled on one thing or another but, doing "Simon Says" as a group - they worked together like pros.

Here was the repertoire they learned from Beginners and now Intermediate:

Paw or Shake. There are other ways to teach this trick but we did it by waving a treat kind of in a circle in front of their nose until they finally put up their paw to make you stop. As soon as they do that you click the clicker and give them a treat. Basically, you annoy them into it.
High Five. The next version of paw. You put the treat between your forefinger and thumb holding the rest of the fingers up with an open palm. It's a Paw but higher.
Watch Me. Put the treat up to your forehead and have them stare at it for longer and longer times. Honey immediately took to this trick and could've watched me for hours as long as I had a piece of cheese between my eyes. (The trainer told me early on that she was a good subject for training since she's so "food motivated.")
Stand. This was a hard one for her to learn. I watched the wheels turn in her head-"Did you mean sit, no, down. Paw - I'm sure you're trying to tell me paw," and then finally she just sat there and stared at me with a kind of glazed expression. I realized she had the same expression as a store clerk I met in Austria where I was apparently ordering "cute grapes." He also came to a stand still and just stared at me.
Touch (touching an object or wall with the paw) and Nose (touching an object or wall with the nose). This is how you can teach them to turn the lights off or close cupboard doors.
She also learned Roll Over as her last trick. I had options - Crawl (seemed demeaning), Play Dead (seemed not as cute on a pit as it was on the toy poodle demonstrating) and Speak (Honey is not much of a bark-er and I'm afraid I'd be opening the flood gates with that one.)
I'm debating on the Advanced class (is that when she learns to drive a car?)

Simon says "Hey Honey, lie sprawled all over my bed with muddy paws on my freshly-washed bed cover." Oh look, she's doing it...


Blogger Carina said...

Congratulations to you and Honey! I had a training instructor tell me years ago obedience training should be like "structured play" and it sounds like your class was like that.

3:10 AM  
Blogger jill bryant said...

Thanks, Carina. :) I know it's no big deal but, between her needing a TPLO and four months of rehab when she started the class and my schedule taking up three more months to get in the next class, I can just say FINALLY.

10:29 AM  
Anonymous catbird said...

Go Honey GO!
We Martin girls are SO proud of you!

3:43 PM  
Anonymous jan said...

What a great thing (and fun too) you are doing to help Honey become a good little citizen. I wish there were many more owners like you.

7:00 PM  
Blogger jill bryant said...

Thank you Jan and Catbird (and Elizabeth and Jane!) I'll pass on the good wishes to Honey in the form of a biscuit (which will make her VERY happy).

9:16 PM  

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