Monday, February 18, 2013

Bugs the Wonder Dog!!

It seems like I've spent a lot of time talking about Bugs' problems, but really her issues are far outweighed by her wonderfullness.

She amazes me daily with how loving she is, what an old soul she is. Yep, she's a hyperactive doberteen - but when she looks at me with those beautiful almond eyes, I can see the amazing, precious girl that she is. She gives the BEST hugs, and has a real gift for understanding human emotion.

She is also hands down the smartest dog I have ever met. She learns incredibly fast. She knows come, kiss, sit, down, leave it, take it, drop it, look, and touch. She also understands how to walk on the leash, loosely, by my side. And of course she is potty trained.

Here's what feeding looks like now, just a week into handfeeding -

In one hand I have a handful of kibble. My other hand is outstretched, palm facing her. Bugs has a sequence of three things she has to do to get the kibble - look, then touch, then take it.

She looks me in the eyes, then touches her nose to my palm, then waits to take the kibble till I say take it. I switch my hands around, so sometimes she touches my right palm, sometimes the left. I don't instruct her to look - she knows the look command and will look without being prompted (usually.) If she isn't looking, I say "Bugs, look!" and she makes perfect eye contact. Then "touch!" and she touches her nose. Then "take it!" and she takes the kibble.

When she isn't eating, she needs to look and  touch my hand randomly, no treat.

Touch is a very easy thing to teach your dog and is important if you want to teach other tricks and targeting, such as learning the names of things, putting toys away, turning on lights, etc.

How we did it is very simple. I always teach new things when the dog is hungry (whether its Bugs, Bruno, Lucky, or Nightmare.) I put a piece of kibble between my index and ring fingers, and hold my palm out. When Bugs goes to take it, I say "touch!" and treat her out of my other hand.

This took Bugs literally thirty seconds to learn. The first two or three times, she went after the kibble. After that, it was a pure nose bump and no kibble was required.

Bugs is a dog that absolutely thrives on mental stimulation. Training her is a joy - she is very eager to learn and seems to be in her element when she's working. A good training session drains as much energy from her as a walk does.

Bugs does have a few bad habits, yes. Such as....

...... Getting in the trash. "But MOM! There was still a little bit of sour cream in that container! I didn't want it to go to waste!!"

But her amazing qualities far outweigh any of her problems. And while I do talk about her issues frequently, they really aren't that bad. Bugs has gone Red Zone on another dog, but only once. She has a hard time meeting other dogs. And then there's that whole trash thing... and the stealing kids' stuffed animals..... but even these issues aren't bad, and I'm 100% confident that I can train these things out of her. She's so smart and gentle and full of love.

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