Archive for April 27th, 2009

Can you teach a young dog new tricks?!

When she was a puppy, Snipe showed an impressive willingness to learn and was very quick to grasp her first command, sit. She loved it. Getting lots of fuss and praise for sitting down? Marvellous.

She already knew her name and also loved the idea of getting even more fuss and praise if she came running up when her name was called. Excellent.

So we moved onto “lie down”.

We’re still trying.

She’s two next month and still doesn’t know what I mean when I say “lie down”. If I try to manoeuvre her limbs so she ends up lying down, she rolls over onto her back.

Ok, I thought, we’ll leave “lie down” for a while and give “roll over” a go.

Nope.

She won’t do that on command either.

Fetch, however, is a different ball game (as it were) and she could keep it up for hours. Unfortunately, I can’t take any credit for that as she is a Labrador Retriever. Her genes and ancestors couldn’t stand by if she didn’t retrieve!

In fact, she’s so good at it that when I was digging the veggie garden, I had to carefully place the turf and stones behind me, otherwise she’d bring them back, a huge grin on her face and her tail thumping nineteen to the dozen!

I have succeeded in educating her about other commands. “Stay” didn’t happen for a long time but I’ve been using the command “wait” for ages (as in don’t jump out of the car the second the door opens, don’t run after the toy as soon as I throw it, etc) and I’m slowly adapting it without her realising. I just need to use the word “stay” every so often and she should start to get the hint.

Anyway, I’ve been adapting the “fetch” game so it stays interesting for both of us (ok, mainly me) and now that she’s pretty good at waiting until I say “fetch”, I’m adding “find” to the mix. The idea is that I hide the toy and she has to look for it. She already knows “catch” and knows to jump into the air to catch the toy instead of sitting like a coiled spring, so I’m trying to explain that the word “find” means her toy’s there, just not in plain view.

I’ve had some success, and she’s very pleased with herself whenever she spots it, and pounces like, well, a happy Labrador – all legs and tail! Yesterday, I alternated between throwing her ball into the pig ark or behind it. She cottoned on pretty damn quick but then let success get to her head and got silly. So much so that when she couldn’t see the ball behind the ark but failed to look properly in the ark, she decided it must be on the ark and did her best to climb up the sides to get her toy!

I had to sit down, I was laughing so hard.

As I calmed down, I thought the story of her climbing up the sides of the ark would make an amusing blog post for a Monday morning, and that it would be best illustrated with a photo of Snipe and her ball.

Which is where things went really wrong.

Apologies for the number of photos, especially if you’re on a slow connection…
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