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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tuesday's Training TIP: PERSISTENCE

FLD Gus jumped down out of our van and hurried me over to an inviting "park" area.  As I snapped the buckles on his blue "Puppy Being Trained for Leader Dogs for the Blind" jacket, I said, Time to go to work now!  Andy had gone ahead to ask permission to bring FLD Gus into the Rose City Cafe for breakfast on our way home from the north country.  No, Gus wasn't getting breakfast, we were!

The waitress welcomed us warmly.  And our breakfast was delicious--I highly recommend this restaurant anytime you find yourself north on M-33!

During our hour or so at the Rose City Cafe, FLD Gus was quiet and caused no problem for anyone, but he was overly interested in the metal base of our table, stray crumbs, and anything else on the floor that looked like it might be food.  Wiggly, wiggly, squirm, and up to investigate was not acceptable.  To me.  I wanted to enjoy the hot coffee on a bitter-wind morning and have a relaxing meal with my sweetie.

FLD Gus didn't care.

What did I do?  I practiced my doggedness--no four-and-a-half-month-old puppy was going to out-persistence me!
  • When the waitress seated us, I placed FLD Gus in a DOWN on my left side.  Good down, Gus!
  • I sat on the leash in such a way that I could sense movement and he would not gain purchase if he lunged.
  • When I noticed him straining to lick the table base, I said, Gus, leave it!  This command, when it works, elicits an immediate head turn toward me.  My LEAVE IT, on this occasion, worked.  Good leave it, Gus!
  • When I noticed him tongue-cleaning the carpet, I pulled his favorite Nylabone from my "Puppy-in-Training" ditty-bag, offered it to him, and said, Gus, chew this!  He chewed it.  For a while.
  • When he squirmed up to dive-bomb a wayward crumb of toast, I calmly re-placed him back into his DOWN.  He took interest in the Nylabone.  For a while.
  • When he squirmed up again, I calmly re-placed him to a DOWN.
  • When he squired again, I caught him before he got up and calmly and gently helped him back into a DOWN.
  • Eventually, he rolled over onto his side, and gave it up.

My persistence paid off!  And I enjoyed the rest of our breakfast, a snoozing-cute Future Leader Dog Gus at my side.


HINTS FOR SUCCESSFUL PERSISTENCE
  • Stay calm.  Never let your puppy get the best of you!
  • Pay attention.  If your puppy gets away with something unbeknownst to you, even just once, he or she will never stop trying to get away with it again!
  • Use commands to divert your puppy's attention.  Only say the command once.
  • Touch your puppy with your finger to divert his or her attention from the distraction.
 
Always make your puppy follow through with the command, and always praise your puppy when he or she immediately responds.  Remember...you CAN be more dogged than your puppy!


As we left the Rose City Cafe, the manager and the cook came out from the kitchen to see "the cute little black Lab puppy" and invited us to return.  Anytime!

A working FLD Gus, checking to see if I'm paying attention.



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