a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Tika's Toy Auto-return Facility

Friday, April 16, 2004

Tika's Toy Auto-return Facility

I've heard of some friends' dogs who take a ball to the top of the stairs, drop it, then chase it down with great delight, grab it, and repeat endlessly.

Tika has figured out a similar maneuver that requires less expenditure of energy.

She has always wanted to have something in her mouth to shake around violently while I'm getting dressed in the morning. This was originally my bedding. I scolded her over & over, used bitter apple, put her into a down stay, all that stuff, for months. (Maybe only 2-3 months; I don't recall exactly now.) Then, perhaps after attending a John Rogerson seminar, in which he talked about *substituting* acceptable behaviors (which I already knew about but hadn't thought about much), I decided that the thing to do would be to keep a nice, floppy Rope toy in the bedroom that I could cram into her mouth every morning. Works like a charm. She shakes the bejeezus out of it, flings it into the air, pounces on it. Tries to get me to play a little tug of war, which I do--a very little (since I'm trying to get dressed). She prefers to do all of this on the bed. Understandable, since there's much more room on the king-sized bed than there is in the spaces on the floor around it. And no chance of whacking your head on something hard while you're doing the death-shake on the toy with half your body involved. Sometimes while shaking or flinging, the toy flies off the bed. So I pick it up and give it back to her to protect my bedding.

Fast-forward to 2 years later. Just recently realized that it goes like this: Tika gets toy, gets on bed. Shakes it a little. Shoves it against me to see whether I'll play tug of war. If not, walk to the edge, drop it on the floor, and stare at it. Mom picks it up and tosses it back on the bed. Pounce! Shake! Walk to the edge of the bed. Drop it on the floor. Stare at it. Mom picks it up and tosses it back on the bed. Pounce! Shake! Walk to the edge of the bed...

So someone managed to train *someone* quite thoroughly, but the someones somehow changed roles--

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