Thursday, February 24, 2011

Little Lessons

This week has been about teaching little lessons to both girls: Mesa self control, and Dally a little self control and patience.

Mesa's lesson is working towards a solid start line stay for her agility, plus a little self control...period. She gets very excited when we're practicing agility and barks...a lot. Plus, she wants instant gratification, which is usually to get to me (she's very attached). So, upon the urging of my agility friends, I've started the first steps to teaching Mesa her own self control.

Right now these lessons include me holding a tennis ball in my hand and waiting to give it to her. Once she stops nibbling or digging at my hand and barking, and when she's relaxed, I click and give her the tennie. I started this Tuesday night with a lot of barking. Wednesday she quickly remembered the previous night's lesson and was fairly quiet. I was even able to set the tennie about one foot from her, and clicked when she stayed down and was relaxed. The next step was throwing tennie a short distance and waiting for Mesa to relax and wait for me to tell her to get it. Once again, she's a fast learner! I was even able to get some sit-stays with me walking around her accomplished. I can walk to about the point of her hip before she feels the need to try to spin around to see me. Baby steps...

Dally's self control lessons have to do with going for walks. She gets so excited to go for walks that she starts jumping up and down and barking. Already, after only one day of getting after her, she's sitting down and quietly letting me snap the leash to her collar. (Shew!)

Her patience lessons have to do with grooming. Earlier in her life, Dally used to not mind being brushed. But something happened (and I'm still not sure what it was--I think it has to do with the groomer to left her with back in Amarillo before she was 1), and now she hates it. She'll jump around and some times try to bite the brush (she knows better than to bite me) ... especially when I get to working on her pants.

So for this lesson, I'm taking things slowly with her and will start her with a piece of a special treat, then gently brush her for a while. I'll continue to treat and brush at random intervals, reassuring her that she'll be OK. She still gets upset, and still will not let me brush out her pants, but it's a calmer experience. I don't know if she'll ever break from that fear, but hopefully it can be a calmer, more reassuring grooming experience.

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