Monday, February 19, 2007

The lengths we'll go to...

Dog training, especially when you have a "non-traditional" performance breed, can stretch your creativity to its limits. And acting on the ideas you come up with can get you labelled a kook or a genius, depending on your success.

This winter I started taking Dax (my French Bulldog) to agility classes. One of the basics in agility is to make it fun for your dog and keep your dog's focus on you and the task at hand. One way is to get your dog to play with you - especially by tugging on a toy.
That's a challenge for us. Dax rarely tugs anything. Never in public. So, I had to get creative. Dee, our instructor (and Nancy, her assistant) pulled out all the suggestions they could come up with - from rubber milking machine inserts (fresh off the farm) to socks stuffed with food. Nothing worked for Dax. What can I say? She's shy about tugging in public.
So I put my thinking cap on. What does Dax love more than anything in the world? Oddly enough, the answer is vegetables. She goes ape for arugula, insane for asparagus, kookoo for cucumbers - you get the idea.

So I brought a nice, limp rib of celery to class for her to tug on. And it worked. Aside from having to pick the "celery strings" out of her teeth. And they'll be telling stories about this for years - with the names changed to protect the nutty.

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