Teaching & Learning

I’ve never been quite so unprepared for teaching in my life. How does one teach a student who doesn’t understand the concept of language, much less English?

Clio is delightful. She’s funny, bouncy, clever and cute. She’s nipped my hands a couple of times, but I’m not sure whether in playfulness or anger. It’s weird. Is she passive-aggressive, playful, or just mad at me? I’ve never been this serious about a student-teacher relationship before, at least in part because we may be working with each other for the next twenty years.

What else? Today we worked on “heel” and sit. We walked down the driveway and to the end of the lane, stopping every three feet or so for a lesson in coming to a stop, or starting to walk. I also threw her yellow chew toy in an effort to get her to fetch for me. The walking lessons went well; the fetching lessons did not. I think she’s mad at me.

The Monks of New Skete say, in their book The Art of Raising a Puppy, that you should never force your puppy into the crate. I wish I had a block of uninterrupted time to devote to training her, when I could concentrate on tiring her out completely, so that she’d go to her crate as a welcome respite. So far, I think she’s more upset with me about the crate than anything else in our relationship, and I’m not sure how to get her to view her “den” as a positive thing.

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  1. I’ve been told that crate training works best when the crate is small enough for them to think it’s a “safe” place (ie: smaller). Of course, with a dog that’s going to grow bigger like yours is (and quickly), that’s sort of hard to accomplish.

    As far as the other training goes, I was told multiple times that you shouldn’t get into serious obedience work until they were at least six months old. They say that before that, they’re teething and may associate obedience with pain. Don’t know how true that is, but I didn’t start the actual obedience work with Burke (my Rottie) until six months.

    Before six months, you can work on the basic leash stuff (how not to pull on the leash, which side to walk on, heel), but somehow, that seems counterintuitive now that I look at it. Working on heel and sit seems not far removed from the actual sit/stay/come of obedience work.

    Smart dogs, once they’re old enough (is she still around ten weeks or so – that may be a bit soon), really enjoy doing the obedience work. I know I always do mine out in the open, usually in a park or grassy yard. *sigh* I miss Burke.

    One other bit – when she gets old enough, they say you should get them to learn to sit before they get their food. It helps teach them that their obedience is rewarded. Of course, even my little dustmop who isn’t really good at tricks (she’s a black-fur blonde – lol) knows to sit when I bring out the food. I think it’s habit with them. When Shiva forgets, I’ll just stand there for a second with the bowl and she plunks her butt right down as if to say “oh, okay, if you insist” – she’s a stubborn one, and aptly named, too.


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