It has only taken 12 years but finally, the dog training for Django has kicked in. #weekendcoffeeshare
He listened to the “leave it” command this morning and I am ready to give him a gold star, a graduation certificate AND start looking for doggy colleges. He resisted grabbing the cheese. This go-to treat is only a little bit higher on the preference scale than organic peanut butter. Django is a very spoiled Portuguese Water Dog.
Resisting the cheese wasn’t Django’s only big accomplishment today. Two hours ago, a barky white retriever walked by us pulling on his leash. Did Django growl and pronk up and down with his feet stiff like a gazelle? He did not. He just sat next to me politely and looked with longing at the kibble treat in my hand. (I am not above bribery when it comes to good behavior.) Dog trainers call this “positive reinforcement”.
Earlier in his doggie life, Django and I spent many hours in training. The trainers pretended they were training Django. They told me he was highly intelligent and good-natured. The unspoken reality was they were training me on how to best train my dog. And I was a terrible student. I didn’t read his signals correctly and dragged him by the leash too much. I was inattentive and impatient. When I handled him it was a disaster. When the trainer did it, he was an angel.
Life with Django was challenging until 2019 when Keith and I decided that we were going to RV in our retirement. Intuitively I knew that I had to get Django’s fear of big dogs under control. I remembered clicker training where the trainer marks the command with a little clicker that sounds like a cricket. The idea is that the clicker is very precise so the intelligent, wanting-to-please dog (Django) knows exactly what’s expected of him. On the other hand, when I learned clicker training I was a mess. I clicked at the wrong time, forgot to give the command and generally screwed it up.)
Turns out I got to this behavior just in time. RVing is 50% about dogs. Most RVers have one or more dogs accompanying them on their travels. Some are trained. Some aren’t, but they are all supposed to be leashed.
More often than not, Django is the better behaved. So proud.
WHERE DID WE GET THE NAME DJANGO?
Django is named after Django Reinhart, the absolutely fabulous French gypsy swing guitar player with limited use of his fretting hand. (I am not kidding.)
How are things going with your dog training? What are his/her favorite treats? What is your pet’s naming story?
Here is a great interview with clicker training developer Karen Pryor on the podcast Hidden Brain. Pryor developed Clicker Training for sea mammals and then applied it to dogs, chickens and other animals. She talks about how she developed the technique and connects it to Freud, Skinner and Pavlov.
This is my first experience with a WordPress community like #weekendcoffeeshare. I look forward to meeting you. Please let me know if I am sharing the kinds of posts that are of interest. My email is lauramalisharvey at gmail.com. And thank you Rowena of Beyond the Flow for inviting me to take part.