Tuesday, August 18, 2009

brushing as a training strategy

I may have mentioned that Kumi is a somewhat fluffy dog. Thankfully, she tolerates brushing, because it would need to get done one way or another, but it is not her most favorite thing by any stretch. I recently came up with a way to make some lemonade out of the situation.

One of the things we are trying to teach her is to sit and wait until told to go through a door. This was proving a bit hard, as all our doors have windows, and she was quite content to stand there and look out the window for a *long* time. Going through the door was a good reward when you got to it, but looking out the window was fun enough that she didn't see any need to do what you said in the meantime. She could just wait.

So we put a brush by the door. She has the choice between standing there looking out the window and *being brushed*, or doing as told and getting to go outside. This is speeding the learning process significantly. She now offers a sit as soon as you walk up next to her, and is getting better on the stay.

I want to reiterate that this isn't retributive brushing, or anything intentionally uncomfortable. It's just getting the tangles out, which would have to be done at some point anyway. We just timed it strategically.

Other training issues are she seems to have learned 'sit' as 'come over next to you and sit' I'm not sure how to re-generalize it to 'sit wherever you are' but for now there are other fish to fry.

We've gotten lazy about the leash walks since we got the fence, preferring games of catch and chase. Her leash manners are regressing. Particularly on the regular collar. It sucks.

On the positive side, well, the door manners are good, but she's also got a pretty good grasp on down now. She knows it a lot better from M than from me, and mostly only knows it in the kitchen (and not, for instance, when she's standing in front of the tv), but still, good progress from 'I have no idea what that means'.

Also, we have our first (no dogs) session of training class this evening. I am inordinately nervous.

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