Wednesday, December 28, 2011

We recently sent our dog away to boot camp. She can be a handful (my mother would have said that "she's a pistol"), high energy, easily distracted with strong ADD tendencies. We needed help. We are pleased with her intensive training, and have been working hard with her to make sure that she knows that what she learned at boot camp actually still applies at home too. This, in addition to making sure she gets a lot of exercise and our hectic work schedules plus the holidays, have meant feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.

Today was a rough day for me. Our Christmas company had just left, I felt almost no rest from my brief (oh so brief!) day off, and today was my Monday, starting at 7am. I was feeling tired and not able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. (There is a light at the end of the tunnel, right?)

When I got home after my long day at work, I let the pupper out of her crate. Therapist had taken her out to the field before she went to work. While I knew I didn't want to do an outside runaround with her, I decided to grab the dog trick book we had and see if I could work on anything with her.


I found two tricks that sounded fun. Putting her toys away, and playing hide and seek.

We recently brought her toy bin into the living room, and have wanted to teach her how to put her toys away. This book is perfect, giving step by step instructions. Many tricks have several simpler commands incorporated in them. I used what Shelby already knows, to "Bring it back!" to bring the toy to me, and then I added "Put it away!" as I held a treat over her toy bin. When she drops the toy (into the bin!) to get the treat, voila! She's done it! She put her toy away!

Of course, it didn't go quite that smoothly, she was very eager to get the treats and got so excited that she lost focus on what she was supposed to be doing, dropping her toys way before she got to me or the bin. But since boot camp, she has been much better able to stop and refocus. Yay!

We worked on that for a while, then played on hide and seek. Shelby knows "come" and "stay", two prerequisites for learning hide and seek. I had her "stay" on her "base" (which she does quite well). Then I went into the other room and told her to "Come find me!" She raced in and when she found me, I gave her a treat. She loves any game that has treats in it. "Finding" me in the next room was easy for her.

I made it harder. I went downstairs (we live in a three-story row house) and hid in the coat closet. I left the door open a tiny crack. There were no other doors open and only an empty hallway for her to explore. I called her to "come find me!" and she came racing down the stairs. She tried to open the (completely closed) door to the guest room, and she went to the (also completely closed) door to the garage. The closet door was open about half an inch, so I could see her looking around the hallway, trying to figure out where I was. Standing at attention, turning her head if she thought she heard anything, she looked very cute. I gave no signal to let her know where I was. She decided I wasn't down there, so raced back upstairs to the main floor. I heard her run from room to room, looking for me. I called again, "come find me!" She raced downstairs again. She looked around. I opened the door another half inch. She found me! (It was only her second try, I wanted her to have success.)

Then I based her and went upstairs to the third floor, hiding behind our bedroom door, and called for her to find me. She raced upstairs and jumped on the bed (which is okay in our house). She stood at attention. Looked around. Jumped to a different position. Looked around. Didn't see me. Standing at attention, oh so cute. The door closed a little bit with a draft and, she saw me! And she raced over to me to get her treat!

This was a fun game for both of us. I needed a little fun today, and I think maybe, so did she.

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