Talk about a “Daddy’s Girl…”
We are working on several new things with our 9 month old, 81 pound Yellow Labrador Retriever, Amber. It’s still up for grabs on who is teaching whom around here.
PICK-UP-STICKS – Amber provides ME with some great “bend-over-and-pick-up,” plus “carry” exercise each morning. She collects sticks she finds and brings them into the civilized part of our front yard, leaving them for us to admire and praise. Some of these are 12 feet long! Yesterday I saw her prancing around, carrying a huge, long branch around the yard. I called to her and she turned, humongous branch in teeth, and I swear she grinned at me around it, saying, “Look at me!”
FETCH – while I was doing the “PICK-UP-STICKS” game this morning, I brought a large, bright green squeaky ball out. It was 20 degrees, so I didn’t want to spend any more time than I needed to out there, but wanted to give the doggie a bit of exercise, too. I squeaked the ball and then threw it. Amber happily bounded across the yard after it, catching it pretty quickly and then brought it back to me. The problem is there. She loves running to get it, and readily runs back to me, ball in her mouth, eyes dancing. But she doesn’t want to give it to me. She stands there, squeaking the ball, or even comes up to me and puts the ball in my hands, teeth never leaving the ball. She looks at me expectantly. I say, “GIVE IT!” She pretends to, but when I try to get the ball, she clamps her teeth down, clearly wanting to play “TUG OF WAR.” Since I’ve learned the hard way that my hands are vulnerable to her teeth in this game, I won’t play. She runs off, then returns right away, trying to entice me into HER game. FINALLY, when she accepts that I won’t play, she gives me the ball and I throw it again….
SAY IT! – We have taught every dog we’ve ever had to bark when they want to come in from outside. Sweet little Molly, our 12+ years old cocker spaniel/schnauzer cross readily barks when she wants to come in, many times when she is out at the same time as Amber. When we hear her bark, one of us gets up and lets her/them in, giving a treat. We are trying to get Amber to bark when she wants to go out, and then when she wants to come in. This is hard going. It seems weird to be trying to teach a dog to bark, doesn’t it. But it’s a really handy thing when a dog will communicate with you.
Amber has a hard head. So far, after we say, “Say it!” over and over, looking at her expectantly by the door, we FINALLY get a noise between a whine and a bark. You have to start somewhere. She has barked once when she was out, beside the door. We think it must have been a coincidence, though, because we jumped right up, let her in, and gave her a treat, but she hasn’t repeated it…