Friday, September 21, 2012

How Not to Bore Your Dog

Shortly after we got Caitlin I bought a training course on teaching your dog to come when called.

The trainer, Eric Letendre, claims (and I think rightly) that having your dog come to you when called is the single most important command to teach.

Those of you who know me know that I haven't yet managed to teach it to Caitlin.

Eric Letendre emails me, and I assume everyone who has ever bought anything from him, every single day. Not just the same old repetitive "Buy from me!" that I often get from companies I've bought from. He has something new to say on the subject of "Buy From Me!" every single time.

At first I just deleted them, but lately I've started reading them, and I rather quickly realized that he is providing me with great material for my blog. I'd ask him to be a contributor if I could make myself believe that he could refrain from the "Buy From Me!" bit.

Today's post shared the following insight: "Dogs do not come to their owners because their owners are boring."

He's absolutely right. Caitlin comes to me every single time that I'm the most interesting prospect in sight.

She'll come to me 47 times in a row if she knows I'm going to throw her squeaky chicken for her, especially if I chase her around the house a few times before throwing it again.

She'll come if I offer to play tug with her.

She'll come if she expects me to give her a piece of hot dog--or some other high value food item.

But not at the dog park.

Occasionally she'll come at the dog park if I dance around like an idiot, act all excited, and shout, "Let's go!" while running away from her.

But not always.

And never if she's playing with Cindy Lou or Kaylee, or if she's locked onto another dog that she's herding.

Trying to lure Caitlin from the dog park, I feel like one of the emperors of decadent Rome--lavishly providing bread and circuses to the populace while the Huns are battering down the outside gates. It is a game I'm bound to lose.

I can't imagine what I could do that would make myself more interesting than the dog park.

I'm not sure I should try. I want Caitlin to come to me even when I'm boring. I want her to come even even though she's just seen a skunk duck behind the neighbor's garage. I want her to come even though the cat across the street is taunting her. I want her to come even though she badly wants to nip the boy who just rode past on his scooter. I want her to come even when she doesn't want to.

I just haven't figured out how to make that happen yet.