Saturday, June 13, 2009

The One with the Training

Wow! What a busy day we had today! One of my two-legged Twitter friends, Nicole Silver, came over to visit with us, though she mostly played with Phoenix and mom. Well, I should clarify, she worked with mom and played with Phoenix. Some issues have come up with Phoenix since dear Ginger crossed the Bridge. It was time to call in reinforcements! We can't have our little Phoenix feeling uneasy.

Phoenix has a tendency to bark incessantly at strangers, clearly displaying signs of stress. This kind lady explained to mom that Phoenix is likely behaving this way out of fear. Mom is used to dealing with a fearful (I prefer the term cautious) dog - I'm not naming names but we all know Cali is NOT shy so I guess you can figure it out! The methods mom uses with me work well at giving me confidence and helping me make decisions. However, Nicole gently pointed out that what works for one dog or person, may not work for the next. Of course! Isn't mom always saying that? It's funny how sometimes it's harder for her to see things clearly when it's so close. Two-leggers! The way mom reassures us
gives me confidence to test the waters, while it has been inadvertently reinforcing Phoenix's unease!

At Nicole's recommendation, mom's going to work at giving Phoenix more structure and clear rules, as she has at meal time and when cars pass on the road. We believe knowing what the rules are in certain situations, such as what happens every time that leash clicks on, will help her with not only her nervous, worked up barking, but also with her, shall we say, "eagerness" on the leash when we're out and about and she sees other dogs or creatures with whom she wants to play!

I watched them practice outside with Nicole's friend John and lovely dog Lila, who is a lot like me I'm told. Phoenix was her usual self at first but once she was given some parameters to work in by mom, with Nicole's guidance, and some practice, we already saw improvement! Mom's going to set up some places they can practice so that it's these habits are more natural for both of them. The hope is when we go back to the beach in a few weeks, Phoenix is much more relaxed!

I, of course, will keep you posted!!

Now, I don't agree with this and my two-leggers aren't sure they see it either, but Nicole told mom that Phoenix was the smartest of our pack (what?!) and needs more challenging activities to keep her on her toes. So while she will know what to expect every time she's leash walked, certain games will need to be unpredictable so she has to think it through more. This is a brief summary, of course.

I agree that she needs more mental challenge but smarter than
me? Does she know where things are kept? No. Does she know how to open gates or doors? No. Can she anticipate the two-leggers actions like I can? No. Does she know how to track papa (or the squirrel) at hide and seek in a jiffy? Ha. No! Does she have her own blog with loyal readers?

That said, Nicole was awesome! She was able to quickly read our pack and had sound and thoughtful advice. She has a knack for guiding two-leggers, especially one that has been stuck in a training (or lack of training!) loop, to techniques different from their natural inclination without coming across overbearing or know-it-all. That is rare!

Though I stand firm - I'm the smart one. I amaze the two-leggers with my ability to offer behaviors when I'm not quite sure what they're waiting for and my ability to read body language and cues, not to mention my resourceful nature. BUT, just in case Phoenix is indeed smarter than I thought, I'm going to make sure I'm getting some of those challenging activities too... don't want to fall behind!
I'm off to complete that New York Times crossword puzzle papa has around here. That'll show 'em, right?




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