Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Training a puppy rules.

Cohen must think we are complete lunatics.

These days it’s full training mode with her. Which to her I’m sure is no fun at all, despite our best efforts. She's doing great as far as accidents go, there hasn't been one in days, and she doesn't seem to mind being home during the morning and afternoons. But, now that she is walking well on her leash we have to start working on her pulling, and this is NOT going over well.

We walk nicely for .8 seconds, and then she lunges forward. So I stop, because that’s what the training books say to do. So she stops and sits. Then I start walking…and there’s the lunge again. The whole process makes a morning walk about 7 hours long, but apparently consitency is key here. But Cohen doesn’t WANT to walk slowly beside me, she wants to chase the cars and run and jump on people and bark at dogs. Part of me wants to just run behind her and let her explore and bark and be herself…but this will not be cute at all when she’s 3 years old and weighs more than I do.

When we’re not ruining her previously fun and adventurous walks, I’m confusing her with her food. She’s cheeky about it, if you go too close to her she gets all upset, and this is apparently something that happens when puppies are still in their litter, so it’s an old habit we have to break. We put her bowl down for her (make her sit first of course to display our ‘alpha dog’ status as the behaviorists say) and then she starts eating. If you go near it, she goes bonkers. So I would say ‘No!’ and take it away, because this is what the books all say to do. But then I feel terrible, because she’s hungry, so this wasn’t working for us.

Last night I tried a new method that I found online, where you feed your pup kibble out of your hand for a while, then let her eat the rest with your hand in her bowl. This she actually really likes, so I’ll keep up with it. The next few nights she’ll get these little lessons again, partly because I know it’s important and partly because Billy is working overtime every night this week I’m bored out of my mind.

The whole ‘alpha dog’ power struggle makes no sense to me. I have read a million websites and books on this, and they all say you have to recognize signs of superiority in your dog and ensure that they relinquish all power to you and submit at your command. How exactly a puppy who eats and drinks and pees and sits when you say so thinks they are the boss is beyond me, but apparently this is an ongoing issue. And, it furthers my point in my hilarious debate with Billy that dogs have terrible lives (half joking here). They are purchased by strange people and taken to strange homes and forced to live within rules that they don’t understand at all…and they can only hope that maybe they will be fed and not have to sleep in the yard or be smacked around or anything like that. At least we know that although Cohen will have to learn rules and follow them, she will also be a spoiled brat who has pretty much whatever she wants. Except maybe the cat poop in the litter box…we do have to draw the line somewhere.

This weeks big success - Cohen can go down stairs!!

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