Okay, I know all you Mom's out there just cringed. How can that mean, cruel man speak of his darling, precious little girl the same as a dog. I'm not saying that. Not thinking of them the same at all, except that when we got them both, neither one was housebroke. Neither one understood the word "no". Neither one knew any commands. I'm just saying there have been similarities between them. Just sayin'. Not saying they're exactly alike. Exactly.
I was thinking of all this at 6am when I was walking the dog. Sydney tried to break her to the leash. And, she had no success. Then, the puppy pulled the leash out of Sydney's (undoubtedly limp) hand, trying to rush her back home, and ran out in front of a car. And, Sydney hasn't tried to walk her since.
But, we can't take the dog anywhere until we teach her about the leash. And, we can't teach her about the leash until we take her somewhere. So, I decided to take her on my morning walks around the neighborhood. The neighbor saw us starting off that first day and wasted no time telling me that I would never teach that dog to walk. And, for about 20 minutes, I wondered if she was right. So, how did I teach her to walk on the leash? The same way we taught Sydney to live with us.
First, we started out spoiling them. Low expectations. And, both lived down to them.
Then, we inflicted an iron rule on them both. Rules. Commands. Okay, so one has learned "go wash the dishes" and the other has learned "heel", but they're both commands. With the puppy, I held the leash clinched in my fist and showed her what I wanted her to do, occasionally lifting her off the ground by her underchest harness until she got the hang of it. With Sydney, it was consequences, like having to rewash the same set of dirty dishes over and over until she finally understood that clean meant squeaky, not greasy.
Then, there were rewards. Okay, so it's more expensive to give a pre-teen girl treats than it is to push a piece of kibble under a dog's nose, but treats work the same way for both: 1) you do what I want, 2) I tell you you're a good girl, and 3) I give you a little something to let you know I appreciate it. Like nail polish. Or costume jewelry. Or a yogurt flavored chewy treat. (you decide who got what).
And, finally, we have compliance. Now, it took one of them two weeks and the other two years to understand compliance. But, whatever. So long as we get compliance before it's time to apply for a driver's license, it's all good.
Right after we got Sydney, we read somewhere that the secret to training a dog was exercise, discipline and reward. Hey, they don't bother me if they're tired and happy. Or locked in their room. Over the years, we've followed that, so we're in good practice for actually training a dog. Good thing we had the girl to practice on.
Take care and have a great Tuesday. Lane