The problem with having a sore throat at the moment is that it makes puppy training quite a chore. I don’t want to talk, and I find it especially difficult to speak in the high-pitched excited voice of someone whose puppy has just done what she wanted.
But I clearly need to work with Spriggan every day. She wouldn’t do much of anything in class on Wednesday, and then I skipped training on Thursday, so by yesterday, it was as if she’d never heard the word “down” in her life.
Me: Spriggan, down!
Spriggan: (cocks her head to side)
Spriggan: (looks at the floor to her right)
Me: (holding a treat at her chest and then pulling it along the floor in front of her) Spriggan, down!
Spriggan: (looks at the floor to her left)
Me: C’mon, down, girl!
Spriggan: (gets up and wanders off)
When heeling, she does pretty well until I slow down, at which point she sits down and doesn’t follow me anymore. It’s as if she’s saying, “I can’t walk that slow. My legs are three inches long, and you’re going too slow for me. I’m’a sit right here ’til you figure that out.”
She does have a job now: searching. I line up four little traffic cones, placing a toy under one. I tell her, “Find it!” and she runs up to each cone and sniffs it. When she slows down at the one she wants, I say, “Show me!” and she paws at it, at which point she gets to play with the toy underneath. She’s pretty good at it after only a week, although it’s a challenge to get her to sit still while I’m setting up. We’re still working on “Stay” and “Wait”.
I think I’ve got a few problems in terms of her training. I suppose it’s possible that she hasn’t learned some of the words yet, but I really don’t think that’s it. I think:
- She gets bored way too easily. Why on earth should she sit, lie down, sit, lie down, sit, lie down, sit… when she could just stay down? It seems she’s too smart for the drills.
- She’s got a little tiny stomach, and she can only be motivated by food for so long. The treats lose their appeal after she’s full.
- The treats also lose their appeal since I’ve been using the same kind her whole life. The trainer at the pet store has yogurt drops and pupcorn and liver treats… and I expect her to get excited about the four-hundredth healthy 1/8 calorie bit of beef-treat in a row?
- She’s got ADD. How can she focus on my boring drills, when there are toys, other dogs, chewable carpet, bits of leaf, noises, an itchy shoulder, etc. with which to contend?
- She’s really just not that concerned about my happiness. Being “a good girl” is not high on her list of priorities. Unlike Pixie, who feels just terrible to disappoint me, Spriggan is very secure in the idea that I’ll love her no matter what. It’s very annoying.
Since I’ve been sick, however, she has slept 10 and 12 hours per night, without complaint, and without convincing. For that, I’m very grateful.