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Dog Obedience Training: Obviously We Have a Long Way to Go!

August 14th, 2009 2 comments

With two young, rambunctious Lab mix dogs, it sometimes feels as if dog obedience training is an uphill climb.  Actually, some days Frankie and Lucy are model citizens.  They come when called, sit when told, back away from contraband when directed and otherwise behave like furry little angels.

Then there are days like today.

Rambunctious Dogs in Need of Dog Obedience Training

Rambunctious Dogs in Need of Dog Obedience Training

Cheap Canvas Dog Collars

Let me begin at the beginning.  Our dogs wear cheap canvas dog collars.  They are soft and easily adjustable.  They come in a variety of attractive colors.  (Frankie and Lucy are currently adorned in matching red collars.)  They’re inexpensive.  And, until Lucy came into our lives, we thought they were relatively durable.  Frankie wore the same green canvas collar for almost a year without incident.

And then we adopted Lucy.

These two dogs get along better than we could ever have expected.  They can play nonstop, with their two favorite games being play-fighting and tug-of-war.  And they’ve developed a favorite routine for combining their two favorite games.  Lucy will grab Frankie by the scruff of his neck.  He has very thick skin there, and she will grab a mouthful of it and shake it around.  Frankie will pretend to fall down.  (I say “pretend,” because Frankie is literally twice Lucy’s size and a great deal stronger.  He’s not going down unless he want to do so.)

So, Frankie pretends to be bested.  He collapses onto his back with Lucy tugging at the scruff of his neck with all her might.  They wrestle around, play-biting and play-growling for a while.  And then Lucy invariably grabs Frankie’s collar.  With a little acquiescence from Frankie, she slips the collar over Frankie’s head.

And then the game of tug-of-war commences.  Next thing you know, they’re all over either the living room or the back yard, tugging Frankie’s cheap canvas collar with all their might (and with all their teeth).

That is when the phrase “you get what you pay for” comes to mind.  Once they get going, it doesn’t take long for a cheap canvas dog collar to become a pile of worthless pieces of canvas and plastic.  Lucy has been with us for about six weeks, and Frankie is currently on his third cheap canvas dog collar.

Today’s Lesson in Dog Obedience Training

Today’s lesson in dog obedience training was that I need some help with dog obedience training.

There I was first thing this morning, still in my PJs giving Frankie and Lucy a quick break in the back yard before walks.  I turned away for just a couple of minutes, and when I looked back, they were tugging away with Frankie’s brand new collar.  I think they skipped the wrestling sequence and went straight for the tug-of-war part of the game.

Without saying anything, I quietly and calmly walked up to them, intending to just reach out and take the collar away.  They waited until I had my hand on the collar.  Then, as if on cue, Frankie released his grip on it and Lucy took off running with it.  I made the mistake of running after her.  I guess that’s just not something you should do when your dog is in possession of contraband.

Lucy ran the length of the yard with the collar in her mouth and me following behind, ugly neon orange Crocs slipping in the wet morning grass.  Just as I had her cornered near the far fence, Frankie raced up and grabbed the collar out of her mouth and took off running in the opposite direction.

Now, mind you, before I interjected myself into the situation, they were engaged in a fierce, take no prisoners, fight to the death tug-of-war.  But with me flailing along behind, the game suddenly became keep-away.  Them against me.  And I was losing.

This went on for several laps around the back yard before I came to my senses.

At this point, I knew the only way to get Frankie’s collar away from them was through bribery.  So I distracted them with a tasty treat long enough to retrieve the collar.

Dog Obedience Training Tips

Why Can't They Always be this Sweet?

Why Can't They Always be this Sweet?

Here are the dog obedience training tips Frankie and Lucy taught me through this little incident:

  • Keep plenty of cheap dog toys on hand.  Clearly, Frankie and Lucy love to play tug-of-war.  They already have a number of tug toys, but they quickly get bored with the same old toys.  Keep a number of different tuggable toys.  Hide the ones they’re bored with until the dogs have forgotten about them, and then bring them back out.  If they always have a “new” and exciting toy, maybe they’ll be less likley to play with something they’re not supposed to play with, like shoes or rugs or collars.
  • Don’t chase after your dog to try and take something away from her.  This is a game changer, in that it changes the game from whatever they were initially playing to a game of keep-away.  And you’re going to lose.
  • When all else fails, cave in to extortion.  If the dog is in possession of contraband and won’t give it up, exchange it for a treat.  This might not be the most elegant solution, but if Fido is in possession of Daddy’s bottle of Viagra, it might just be the quickest and easiest way to avoid catastrophe for everyone involved.

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