Sunday, April 6, 2014

Finding the Best Solution

  Our new puppy Zoey is already a celebrity in the neighborhood.  We've had neighbors drop by with gourmet peanut butter dog bones, and someone else gave us two coats that their dog had outgrown.  We will begin our sixth week tomorrow, and she is settling in beautifully.  I believe that puppies train us on how to care for them, and then we have a wonderful life together.  In six weeks, we have learned that Zoey will need to go out as soon as her feet hit the floor, and so I'm happy to say that accidents are few and far between.  It seems that for a small dog, she really loves to be outside.  She will go for walks several times each day, as long as we stop and talk to everyone.  She loves to be petted, and looks for the neighborhood kids who generously give her extra hugs.
    We are working on getting Zoey to come when she is called.  It's fair to say that progress is slow.  It is pretty easy to get her to find me when we are in the house.  I just have to make one of the toys squeak, and she will come running.  What happens outside is an entirely different story.  She bounces over to me, then darts off to chase a leaf, or anything else that has her attention.  This is a problem if she won't come to me, and I need to leave for work.  I need to resolve this issue quickly.
    The solution is the thirty foot training leash.  It gives her plenty of room to run around, but I can get her into the house quickly.  Of course, I just pull on the leash while calling her name.  I also praise her for coming towards me.  A friend also suggested finding a "high value" reward of some kind.  I've decided to use something that she will never get as part of her daily routine, which rules out all the toys, as well as dog bones,  ice cubes, and frozen string beans.
    Zoey went crazy when I microwaved some pre-cooked bacon strips for BLT sandwiches. I believe that bacon may be something impossible to resist.  I'm thinking the real thing is probably healthier than the processed dog treats. I like the fact that I can crumble it up into tiny bite sized pieces.
     I begin by letting her smell the bacon, then I walk into another room, calling Zoey as I go.  Of course, she is hooked, and does not leave my side.  Nevertheless, I reward her with a tasty morsel.  After a minute, I go back to the kitchen, and call again.  She bounced to my side, and gobbled up her treat.  I try and let enough time go by that she becomes preoccupied with a toy, then call again and reward.  After fifteen minutes, we have done this about ten times.  Half the bacon strip is gone, and I decide to stop and try again the next time we are outside.  Even though she is on the leash,  it works beautifully.  I know that we can use bacon for training, as long as I use it sparingly.  We will spend a few minutes each day, both inside and out working on this.  Sometimes,  I will not have the treats, but I can use praise and affection as my reward.  It is all about consistency.  I want her to know what I expect, and what she can expect in return.  This is the foundation of a beautiful friendship....and the beat goes on....the beat goes on.........

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