Crafting Gentleness

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Dog/Man Training

It's been quite a strange couple of weeks in some respects. I've been learning that some people I thought were trustworthy aren't, while new people have appeared out of nowhere to brighten life up.

Last night I went to my first class of Puppy School, with Austin Barrett, who runs the Rascals school outside Derry city. I'm sure all of the dogs were at home sniggering away at their owners getting trained by a doggy trainer, but I'm guessing that we'll have the last laugh. Don't ever underestimate the power of doggy treats and manipulative psychology! I was compelled to invest in the training because my attempts to be gentle with my enthusiastic, bounding, rabble-rousing, DVD-eating, video-cassette-chomping, clothes-ripping Cassie were increasingly being complicated by my tendency to give her love and affection at every turn. As a result, I was being led to more and more extreme measures to make even the slightest difference to her behaviour, so I ended up feeling bad for shouting at her and she ended up feeling bad because she just wanted to play, or was simply bored, and couldn't see what was wrong with either.

I didn't have enough information about the situation, so my responses were inappropriate to my intentions and generally unhelpful for what I was hoping to do. So, back to the drawing board to learn more about what's going on. Then, when I have a better sense of the situation that I'm dealing with, maybe then I'll be able to be firm but gentle with my lovely outer puppy. I started the training regime this morning, associating 'good girl' with food rewards. Next step will be to reward her when she gives me her attention and then to associate gaining her attention with her name. She was very good this morning during the food exercise we did, and for the first time I could imagine her being a very well-behaved dog, which would be such a bonus if we can both manage it. Here's to a fun learning curve for both of us, and to a future time when cat and dog can chill together! :)


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