Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Training the Dog

Have you seen that show "It's Me or the Dog"? It's on Animal Planet. I'm kind of addicted. Only kind of, though. I don't actually know when it's on for real, but I keep coming across it late at night, and it always seems to be on for 4 hours in a row and I have to watch it. Anyway...

There was this one episode where this family had these obnoxious dogs who wouldn't leave them alone when they ate. They would mill around the table, begging and even putting their paws up on the table. Victoria Stilwell (the trainer) fixed this behavior by making a rule that the dogs weren't allowed at the table, or even in the dining room, while people were eating. She "body blocked" them from coming into the room and then put them in a down and taught the people to do the same, and eventually the dogs got it and mealtime was peaceful.

Howie didn't exactly have the same problem. He never put his paws on the table or anything. In fact, most of the time, when we ate, he would just lie under the table, which I thought was actually kind of cool. But every now and then he would get up and kind of circle one of the girls and start licking their chairs and trying to lick their hands, and this was not okay. It was especially not okay when he stole Pete's toast from her (she wasn't sitting straight in her chair and he might have thought she was giving it to him, but it still wasn't cool). So imagine how pleased I was to see that episode! "Watch this," I said to my family a few days later, and I led Howie out of the kitchen and put him in a down and sat back at the table. When he tried to come back in, I blocked his way and praised him when he stayed out. He got it pretty quickly, really. In fact, after just a few times shooing him out the first meal he didn't even try to come back in. We've been doing this with him for several days now. Even if just one person is sitting at the table eating, Howie is not allowed, and this evening at dinner he didn't even try to come in. As soon as we started gathering to eat, he laid down outside the doorway and we didn't see him again until we were done.

I pointed it out to Husbandguy because he's always complaining about the things Howie does wrong, but he didn't seem at all impressed. I think I'm going to have to mention it again and make sure he gets that the dog is trainable if we all work at it.


Eric S. said...

That's great. Training is all about persistence and consistency. Howey sounds like a very easy dog to train.

I have not seen that show yet, heard about it though. We watch Ceasar Millan all the time. The Dog Whisperer has some really great tips also.

Maria Rose said...

I'm impressed. I love that show and Dog Whisperer and I don't even have cable...I get stuck on it when I visit my family.

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