Thursday, July 27, 2006

A clever canine in four weeks

I have been thinking about teaching Diesel some tricks. I miss watching his brain work. Just the other weekend I woke my husband up to the sound of a clicker and my saying "Through" as I lured Diesel into doing figure-8s between my legs. He picked it up quickly. He'll follow you anywhere if he thinks you have a treat in your hand. Hounds are that way. Hounds hound.

I bought a book called "The Only Dog Tricks Book You'll Ever Need". It looks great and there are a ton of ideas. But I like classes and social interaction. Photography classes, yoga classes, old-school aerobics classes. Now dog training classes. Besides, I love seeing everyone else's dogs. Somehow I always come to the conclusion that Diesel is the most handsome and the most clever. Not that it's a contest.

So I looked on the Wisconsin Humane Society's Web site yesterday to see what was on offer. Beyond Manners class starts soon but was full and at 5 P.M. anyway. Couldn't make it. But wait, there's a Clever Canine Tricks class that starts tonight. What could I have going on for the next four Wednesday evenings? Nothing much. It's back to school!

Mark and I had taken Diesel to WHS for Manners class within three weeks of bringing him home. It was a six week class and he graduated a star. He is now conditioned to do a good sit pretty much everytime he sees a stranger. Not because I insist he be so polite but because he thinks they have hot dogs. Heather, our instructor at WHS, had hot dogs so chances are a wide variety of humans have hot dogs. Makes me smile. I know he's being a hound but the unsuspecting stranger is impressed with the polite and attentive beagle.

Last night we learned targeting, weaving between my legs as I walk, bow, reinforcing "drop it", and speak on command (I'm not going there – Diesel is the quietest dog ever and I don't want to awaken that noisy beagle instinct!).

This morning right after our walk I took our homework sheet, half of Diesel's breakfast kibble, and the clicker and we went through the paces. He's catching on!

But this time we practiced and clicked outside. My husband was still sleeping.


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