Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Who's smarter?

I have a small dog...well, he was supposed to be a small dog, but he's actually more of a medium-sized dog. Or, maybe he's a small dog with a big-dog personality...or perhaps he's a misfit entirely!

Anyway, Mickey is a 3 year old, standard-sized Dachshund. He's as handsome as he can be. He has so much life in that buff body of his, he can be hard to take sometimes. When he wants your attention, you listen! He's the main attaction in any room he's in! (thank you, he'll be here all week!).

I've told his story here before, how Mickey was left tied up in an orchard by some "pickers" when they had to move on. He has a scar all the way around his neck, an intermittent line of white hair against a black coat, to show how long he pulled at the rope he was tied to before some kind person saved him and he ended up in a foster home. My husband and I adopted him because we wanted a Dachshund. Not sure why. Now, I want an older, calm Australian Shepherd. But, that's another story...

I tried to give this dog away AND give him back to his foster home several times in the year after he came to live with us. He must have been meant to live with us. And I knew that IF Mickey were to live with us, I needed to learn how to teach some manners to a rambunctious dog.

And I did! I watched The Dog Whisperer on the Nat-Geo channel and applied Cesar Milan's techniques to my work with Mickey. And I am amazed at how much I can communicate with this energetic dog because of these tools Cesar teaches.

Okay...that's the background.

Over the last two years, I have diligently worked to teach Mickey to sit and WAIT when I open the door to let him and his friend, Quincy, out. Quincy is a dog we got from the rescue place in California six years ago, and despite the fact he'll bite you if you go to pick him up (and by "you" I mean "me!"), he's pretty nigh perfect.

When I say WAIT to Mickey, he is supposed to back off, sit down, and wait until the old Quincy goes first sedately out the door. And this he does, quite admirably. He doesn't do it automatically, but he'll do it all if I say WAIT.
I suspect it's all a game for him anyway.

Now, when my husband goes out the door and doesn't want Mickey to go out with him, I hear all kinds of fussing and fuming and Pete yelling out: "STAY!" "STAY!" "STAY" "I TOLD YOU TO STAY!"

I told Pete, "Don't say STAY! Say WAIT!

You see, it all makes perfect sense in my head. I didn't train Mickey to sit and back off from the door by saying STAY because STAY implies I am asking him to sit and stay there a certain period of time. Mickey is very smart, and I don't want to confuse him.

If I say WAIT, it means he is to wait a moment or two. Then he can go ahead and roar out the door. If I tell him to STAY, I use that at different times, when I actually want him to stay or stay back. Mickey's smart and he knows the difference.

I've told Pete over and over not to yell STAY at Mickey when he is going out the door, but to say, firmly, WAIT. I tell Pete over and over how the dog is trained. It does no good. Pete keeps yelling STAY at Mickey.

Finally, it hit me, yesterday. Since there is no "The Husband Whisperer" on Nat-Geo or any other channel, I just do not have the skills to teach Pete the difference in Stay and Wait.

So, I need to change how I train Mickey. I need to teach him that STAY means WAIT when he is wanting to go outside, but STAY also means STAY when I use it at other times and want him to sit and stay a longer period.

It's confusing, but I think Mickey is smart enough to get it.

At least until Nat-Geo comes out with a new show...

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