Thursday, February 26, 2009

Eskimos are not always easy

Alki and Barclay

I was drawn to Eskimos because they are smart and beautiful, and very loving, but they are not 'people pleasers'. They kind of do their own thing. Very independent. I have been working and working with Barclay's training. I know it would go faster if he was a 'pleaser' but that's just not how they are.

When I was a kid we had some great dogs that I loved dearly, and we never trained any of them. How did they turn out to be such great dogs? I have higher expectations for my dogs now. When I was a kid we never took dogs for walks, they never left the big backyard except to go to the vet or maybe on a family trip to the beach. You didn't worry about socializing them with other dogs, or training them to walk nice on a leash, or crate training, or to come back when called. So dogs today get a richer, more stimulating lifestyle, but to do that they need to learn more skills than ever before.

Barclay disappointed me the other night when he refused to come off the couch in the living room and come to bed with the rest of the family, and when Dave went to get him Barclay started to bite down, a warning to leave him alone. His temperment is overall pretty docile and submissive. I think we just caught him at a time when he was sleepy and thought he'd see what he could get away with. Of course that's completely unacceptable. We've been working on bite inhibition since he came home at 8 weeks, and he's been very good and not shown any aggression since he outgrew the tantrum phase when he was tiny. We made him get up and come to bed anyway.

The next morning we began instituting the Nothing In Life Is Free program. I was hoping he could do without it, it's a bit more of a hassle for us. Instead of walking by and seeing your dog laying there and giving them a pet, you're supposed to call them to you and give them pets. Everything is on your terms, and the dog has to perform to get what he wants. Two days later and I'm already seeing progress. He's more attentive and is doing better at coming when I call, and generally doing what is asked. Hopefully we can relax this as he improves.

Last night we were working through a new exercise in the Control Unleashed book - Go To Place. In this case it's a bathmat, and I just let him figure out what I wanted, clicking when he got close. It was very cute to watch him figure out that he was getting clicked for stepping on the mat, then for laying on it. He was doing good at half laying on it, and I waited to click hoping if I held out he would shuffle and get the rest of his butt on it, and instead he rolled over on it! Just trying new things to see what works :) Finally he did get completely on it, and got lots of rewards. Soon he didn't want to get off the mat! It was a good exercise for him, and fun for both of us.

3 comments:

Mer said...

It is so fun to hear about you training your dogs! I was working with Dioji today to learn how to jog next to me while I ride my bike. I am using a Springer attachment, but I don't want him to pull me around, so some coaching was needed.

I completely agree about the difference between our family dogs growing up, and my dog now. We never walked them, or trained them to do much. They were expected to sit and come. That was about it.

I am continually working with Dioji on loose-leash walking, and learning new skills. And he enjoys it. I use a clicker, like you do - and he thinks it's the best game in the world! :)

Keep posting about their progress! :)

StefRobrts said...

Glad ot know mine isn't the only one who hasn't caught onto loose leash walking! You'll have to tell me what technique works for you. Barclay is just so easily distracted it's hard to get his attention on walks for more than a few seconds at a time.

annaliese said...

this sounds like so much work! I am so impressed with all of the training you do with him!