Friday, August 31, 2007

The fabulosity of dog training.

Yes, I made that word up. Fabulosity. But, in a hurry, it was the first word that came to mind to describe the joy of a well trained dog. We recently adopted a rescued dog, Pip, from the Prison Trained K-9 Program near us. Maybe this is because I'm a proud mama, or maybe it's because in the last three months I've read every book on dog training and dog behavior I can get my hands on, but let me tell you how I feel about dog training: I would NEVER own a dog who wasn't in training or already trained.

Pip, Callie, and I have been at the dog park near Brynn's school at least once a day every day this week. You can tell which dogs have been trained well, which have had enough training to at least have good doggie manners, and which have been allowed to do whatever they want with no attempt made at training. Those dogs' people just throw up their hands and sigh happily when their dog jumps on a person for the umpteenth time. They smile and say "dogs will be dogs!" when their dog chases Callie onto a bench and licks her all over the face. Unfortunately, today Callie (who was standing right next to me) got knocked over from behind by a rowdy young black lab named Miller. Miller's person was walking laps around the dog park, listening to his iPod and talking on the phone. Miller's person never saw Callie get tackled (literally tackled) and made only a few half-hearted attempts to keep his dog from jumping on every person who walked by. I feel sorry for dogs like Miller because all of the people at the dog park despise him. It's not Miller's fault - he's a dog who needs his person to give him boundaries. Miller's person, on the other hand, is irresponsible and lazy.

On to Pip. Pip is the most well-behaved and best trained dog I've ever been around. She sits when I tell her to sit, she lays down when I tell her to lay down. She stays when I say to stay - while we eat dinner she does a half hour "down stay" - I tell her to lay down and stay, and she does...about six feet away from the dinner table. She minds her own business in the car - just curls up on the front seat. She never jumps on people, she doesn't lick, she doesn't even smell. All of the things about dogs that I've always disliked - she doesn't do any of them. She has very good manners with the other dogs at the dog park. She loves to chase the ball (but doesn't ever bring it all the way back to me). She loves to be chased by other dogs and then hide in a ditch and jump out at them.

Clearly, Pip is an amazing dog. Here are the problems. She only pees and poops once a day, so I worry about her kidneys and worry that at some point she's going to lose it in her crate or in my house. She doesn't love my children. She's beginning to warm up to them - they can actually pet her and she responds to some of Brynn's commands without me enforcing the commands. She doesn't eat very much so I worry about her being malnourished. She doesn't really care about treats, so heavy duty praise is the only way to enforce her good behaviors.

It's only been a week. Not even a week, actually. So, all things considered, she's a great dog at this point and life is much more fun with her than without her! But, if she were anything like that goofy black lab, Miller, I think I'd be ready to run away from home.


carrie said...

as the owner of a very poorly trained dog, i can only imagine the joys of having one that listens when commanded to do so. as for pip, no doubt she just needs a little time to adjust to her new surroundings. as a pup, even finn took about a week to get settled. i would assume that it would take equally as long for an adult dog to adjust especially with little ones around. :)

Michael said...

Liz mentioned that Pip hadnt taken to the kids right away. It might be good to have the kids be the one who gets the food for the dog. I know Lucy always treated my mom differently because she was the one who fed Lucy... Maybe if Pip sees them as providers just like you and Scott, she might change.

I can already tell you that if we get Daisy, she won't be well behaved for a little while. But no tackling will occur, she's 4 pounds.