Friday, June 20, 2014

People Training 101

            I am a dog person.  I am also a cat person, a horse person, and an everything-but-spiders person.  This means I am a sucker for big eyes and cave in on the rules when it comes to cuteness.
            But I have lately decided to teach tricks to my Taco Terrier.  Mickey (so named because she has a Mickey Mouse–shaped spot on her back) is half Chihuahua and half miniature Fox Terrier.  Her brain is the size of a grape, so I am not expecting much.

            I begin with the world’s tiniest treats, to reward her for piddling outside.  This has escalated into a ticker tape parade with her racing around the coffee table every time she comes back in, to get multiple treats as if she has invented a time machine or something.  She has not.  She is, in fact, getting paid for breathing.  Okay, breathing and piddling.  Here she is, hiding under a blanket and giving a raspberry to the family:
            From housebreaking I have moved up to costume wearing.  Here she is at Christmas:

            And this is her Halloween costume:  
She was not cooperative in either instance and is the canine equivalent of Mr. Scrooge, actually.  She is also unable to catch a ball, and hides from it.
So I am taking a tip from the animal trainers at Sea World, and using behaviors she already exhibits, to make it look like I have trained her to do something amazing.  For example, she stretches out on the carpet every morning at which point I say, “Do your yoga, Mickey!”  And then I reward her. But she doesn’t fall down and stretch when I say it any other time of day.  So she has basically trained me to reward her for waking up and stretching. 
My latest plan is to shout, “Do nothing, Mickey!  ‘Atta girl, just ignore me!  Pay no attention to what I’m saying!”  She has this one down, already.  I just need to be quicker with the treats.
Dog training is not one of my YouTube videos, but tons of other life skills are—check them out here, and amaze your friends.

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