Monday, May 25, 2009

It's really humiliating being outsmarted by a dog!

It's amazing what puppies absorb in their first weeks. I remember when visiting Jemma's breeder that in the section allocated to dogs and puppies, there were a few couches on which the adult dogs sat.

It was only when Jemma was about 4 months that she began jumping onto my couches. The only reason she had not done it before was because she was too small. But she remembered her parents doing it and was imitating their behaviour. My problem is that for my sake and that of my visitors, I would prefer one place in my lounge to be safe from dog fur. So couch jumping is out. But how to persuade Jemma of that?
A stern "no" and pointing to the ground had no effect, nor did a shove off the couch have any impact. So it was time to consult dog trainer Wendy Wilson again. "The principle is that when the negative action is against yourself, you "punish" by ignoring your dog. Their negative actions result in you not paying them attention. But if the negative action is against something like a couch (the environment) then the environment must "punish" them," explained Wendy.

OK but how does one make the environment "punish" a dog?

She told me to put lots of baking tins, pots and pans on the edge of the couch. When Jemma jumped up, they would make a helluva a racket falling off. Hopefully this would give her a fright and she'd assume the couch had barked at her. Well I tried that, but clever Jemma was suspicious of these obstacles and never made a move.

Now I have three couches. Her solution was to jump onto the other couches. My problem was that I was running out of things to put on the couches. She was even smart enough to see a weak spot in my fortifications. A small opening between the pots and pans allowed her to jump through. And there she sat behind the fortifications with a self satisfied smirk on her face.

So my next move was to make the pots and pans bang by themselves because she was smart enough to avoid them. So I filled a small tin with stones and lobbed it onto the metal collection. The noise succeeded in getting her off the couch.
But if she has worked out that the pots, pans and the couch are separate things, does this mean that I am going to have to store my kitchen utensils on my couches forever? I'm going to have to go back to Wendy.

It's really humiliating being outsmarted by a dog!

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