Friday, August 6, 2010

"Down!"? of "Off!"? Or A Little Click?

Now, normally this is not my cuppa. I can tell you exactly what you should do when your dog gets all jumpy right when you walk in the door, but I’m deplorably deficient in follow-through when it comes to my own. This is an especially big problem when the dog you need to train has more training evasion tricks up her sleeve than you have skills.

In case you haven’t been following my posts recently, this entry is about Pinky, my pit bull foster dog who has an I-have-more-energy-than-you-know-what-to-do-with flair that goes beyond most dogs I’ve ever met (save my mother’s 12-year-old Jack Russell, who still gets up every day with a squirrel-obsessed glaze about her).

The thing with Pinky is that if I don’t manage a three to four mile run in the early morning hours, the Miami summer heat means no serious workout for her for the rest of the day. And I’m hard-pressed to manage that kind of a run more than twice a week.

So what’s a not-so-capable trainer to do? Here’s what I’ve done:

Keep up the energy expending exercises, even if it’s only ball playing in the front yard and vigorous (if indoor) inter-dog play.
Redirect the dog to the floor with treats every time the urge to jump seems imminent (as when releasing her from her crate or coming in from the exciting out-of-doors).
Use the clicker when she gets her treat to help connect the clicker to the reward for easier training on other fronts.
Invite a high quality trainer to dinner once every other week or so. (It helps that she’s fun to hang around.) Having someone who knows how to train ME means better care for all of my pets (not just the dogs).
When all else fails, hand your guests the spray bottle, since they’re the ones most likely to be set upon by the intense, gravity defying bunny-hops.

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