Sunday, March 1, 2009
God Loves a Terrier
Stewie's been with me about ten days now, and I've been just letting him be a dog. He runs a lot and is calming down a little bit. He shows no separation anxiety indoors, but fortunately for me he is really making an effort to seek and stay close to me (or Rippy) outside.
He had his first clicker session today. He gets absolutely wild when he smells food, so I decided to do it with baby food. He is so small that he can't chew anything quickly, and he can't see things well enough to find them if they hit the floor. (I've decided that he's nearly blind.) Besides that, he still bites so hard I thought eating from a metal spoon might deter that a bit.
I cracked open the baby food, and he was running around like mad, searching for the source of the smell. He was literally spinning, trying to find it. I clicked and stuck the end of the spoon right in his face. He went nuts! He clamped down on the spoon, hard. I just let him do it. He had baby food smeared all over his face and whiskers. I decided a smaller spoonful would be better. When I took the spoon away, he ran and dashed around trying to find it again. He paused for just a second to sniff the floor, and I clicked and immediately delivered the spoon again.
After a few repetitions of this, he had a, "Wah-wah" moment! He became very excited upon hearing the click, and I knew he understood. I started waiting for longer periods of quiet. First they started with just sniffing. Then, I began clicking only when his head was up. Finally, he settled down enough to pay attention, although he really couldn't watch. He would stand and turn his head, searching for any shadows. He used his ears, though, tipping this way and that, listening for a sign of movement.
Within twelve minutes of the start of the session, he had learned to "sit" on cue. He began doing it by voice command. Sometimes he would sit with his back to me, still listening -- he was that disoriented. I waited for longer periods of quiet from him, letting him think and making him really pay attention. With his handicap, he is going to have to learn to really listen.
I will do more attention work with him next time, but I was glad to see he was able to focus on this simple task.
Thinking is hard work, and tonight he is a much more mellow pup! I was able to get this picture of him when he stretched out for a few contemplative moments.