Monday, April 21, 2008

Boooring day...

It's raining outside, and John and I are in the workshop making pens. Not much to do today...nowhere to go...might as well do something "handy". Mom makes me a bed on the floor of the workshop with lots of blankets that can be washed easily (everything gets dirty in the shop)...I like it because I'm right there to help if needed. Usually I pick up stuff before John asks. John and Mom say as long as I have a good "leave it" cue, it's okay to let me work without a cue. I say that something falling is my cue.

Mom and Score (my little brother) went to a thing called "Clicker Expo" this spring, and she's come back with all sorts of new words and terms. She says that she's good at the artful side of training, and is trying to brush up on her scientific side. Terminology is not her friend. But she's getting least I think she is. She's no longer standing there with a puzzled look on her face when someone asks what certain terms mean!

We use clicker training in our house, and I love it. Mom is what is termed a "Crossover Trainer". She started training with choke chains, force and *gasp* no treats. Trouble was, as mom says, she was training a basset hound. The typical "Stubborn" breed. No matter what mom did, that basset nose stayed on the ground. They muddled through for a year or so before finding AGILITY. Mom had always wanted to try agility, but didn't know where to go. Suddenly, she found a place, and they were accepting of a basset hound playing on their equipment. But there was a catch. No choke chains. Mom thought this was okay, as it wasn't working anyway. She started with just a buckle collar and loads of hot dogs. Amazingly enough...(can you hear the sarcasm?)...her basset started to pay attention. Mom wasn't clicker training yet, but had started down the road. She went on to title Harding (the basset) in agility and flyball...with treats and trust. (RIP Harding)

Mom continued with the treats and buckle collars...and got into other non-aversive methods and equipment, such as head halters. She used these with great success on Ripley and Xander (my big brothers) who were both rescues with issues. Then my sister, Inara, came along...with LOADS of issues. She started clicker training more...and it worked so well for her. Then I came along.

I was a easy-going boy at first. Rescued and transported from MO to Maryland to meet my mom for the first time...I was sweet and gentle. Mom thought, "This one will be easy". Ha!

I had space issues and problems with being grabbed. These things didn't show up at took a few months. The first time mom tried to move me away from her plate (she was eating on the couch), I air-snapped at her foot. This happened a few more times, and then one day mom "snapped". She grabbed me by the collar and dragged me to the basement to put me in a crate. I grabbed her back. In tears, she realized that she was waaaaay off-base.

A whole new part of my life started then. Mom took a hands-off approach with me. Rather than restraining or pushing me out of the way while she ate, she clicked and rewarded me for staying in one spot and a pre-determined (determined by her) distance. She only grabbed my collar if she was playing the "Gotcha Game" (grabbing for me in fun...and treating for it). And things were better.

To be continued...

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