Friday, 18 February 2011

Tough love teaches an old dog new manners

Tough love is what a dog needs.  This is my mantra.  But when Tock looks at me with those big eyes....  Ah, man, it's hard.  

Today's training activity is to encourage Tock to respond immediately to a single command to "sit" before I clip his leash to his collar for a walk.  Usually I ask him to sit, he prances around a bit, whines ever so slightly, gestures towards the door with his head, turns his back on us, looks away .... All very evasive.  The sitting itself often comes only when we tug his collar upwards, by which time he has cunningly also elicited a lot of extra human attention.  

It's the same struggle every day, three times a day.

So I'm trying something new.  If he doesn't sit immediately upon command, I'm walking away for three minutes, ignoring him completely and typing a bit more on this blog entry. 

So far, he has ignored me three times. You could be here a while.

I'll try again. 

Four times. 

Each delay costs me three minutes of my life.  He can also smell his lamb chops defrosting in the kitchen, which probably doesn't help focus his mind. 

12:43.  Must hold out for another two minutes.  Hold out, girl!

12:44.  Crikey, this is boring as well as agonising.

12:45.  Go, go, go!

.... Ah, rats! Five times, now.  Alright, dog, that's fifteen minutes of my life!

He looks so bloody miserable, why doesn't he just give in and sit?  He knows the command; he sits for his dinner, or when being petted by children and he always sits when he knows he has done something wrong.

I think we have adopted the world's most headstrong hound.  A former stud.  Wow, the ego!

12:47.  Come on Tock, I want to get outside in the sunshine.  Do the right thing and sit, pesky dog!

Uh-oh!  Unintended consequences!  Tock's gone into his crate and when I stand in front of it and call him, he is ignoring me.  I'M THE ONE WHO DOES THE IGNORING HERE, BUDDY!

13:01 Eight times now.  We are not making any progress.  Can dogs really be this stubborn?  Isn't that a human trait?  

Should I just give in? What if he needs to pee?  Yikes.


FINALLY, I got Tock to sit at 13:34 after goodness knows how many attempts. I ended up luring him into the back yard to sit there.  Outside of his territory, I suppose it stung his pride less to submit.  

The best time to train this hound seems to be late afternoon when he's really hungry.  That's the only time he responds to food incentives rather than exercise incentives.  Exercise incentives are difficult to make immediate enough for him to recognise as a reward for "sitting".  But when he is hungry, oh yeah, there's everything to play for.  Look how obsessed he is with the treat ball in this video, to the point that he ignores my offer of a walk.

Today at 5pm I waited until Tock had stopped begging for dinner and then made him sit while I fed him raw chicken liver pieces by hand, one by one, and I stopped feeding the minute he ceased to sit.   This has certainly improved his sit reflex already.  Kosmo's owner has kindly agreed to get some  training treats for Tock from Petco tomorrow - the tiny treats you can feed repeatedly without making your dog fat - so with a bit of luck he will learn to sit just in time for Vegas, and his stay back at Celtic Acres Farm.  

And when we pick him up from the farm in March, it will all need to be taught again!

1 comment:

  1. I'm loving reading your daily installments on life with Tock! Jasper's now coming up for two so every account rings a familiar bell :)
    We have been known to feed Jasper his whole dinner in small amounts in return for corresponding obedience. We also make him sit to command at frequent intervals when we're out and about on walks. He's definitely another dog who has a bad case of selective hearing...


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