While Shiva and I bask in the cold November rain on our first official holiday, we have asked several bloggers to fill in for us with their own stories. At this point, Shiva is a little worried. Shiva, my loyal furry friend, thinks I will have my work cut out for me when I get back to work. Especially after today’s post, brought to you by That Jen K of Back Alley Soapbox fame. Not only is Jen a fellow Canadian, she also resides in my former home city of Calgary, Alberta. For that she has my deepest sympathy. Jen is a strong activist for animal welfare in Calgary and I wish I had known her when I lived there. If you are not already reading her blog, you are seriously missing out!
It’s no secret that many of us “dog bloggers” spend a lot of time off-line working on various skills with our canine companions.
Whether it is practicing something fun like agility weave poles and tubes, or something challenging like working towards loose-leashing walking with a reactive dog, we put a lot of time and effort into building skills and trust.
Heck, some of us even take it a step further and test out clicker training with the cat!
Unfortunately, it just happens to be the case that most of the general public doesn’t really see the point of some of the basic obedience skills like a 20 minute long-distance sit-stay. Nor do many appreciate the accomplishment and all the hard work it takes to get there.
Of course, sometimes, you can spruce up an old favourite for an immediate increase in public admiration and appeal.
But when it comes to showing off our dogs – and our relationships with them – tricks are the ultimate crowd-pleasers.
From shake-a-paw/high-five, to dancing, to catching treats tossed in their direction, everyone gets a kick out of dog tricks – and of course they’re a blast to teach! And I’ve heard of some pretty cool dog tricks in my day.
But when it comes to teaching Moses tricks, we had trouble coming up with something unique and interesting.
I mean, he’s a pretty big guy, so speed and agility aren’t really his strongest suits.
But then it occurred to us – we have a Newfoundland.
And what is a very common Newf characteristic?
In reality, drool isn’t just a characteristic. It’s a hazard.
It is not uncommon for Moses to grab a drink in the kitchen, saunter into the living room, and shake his head free of the slobber. It’s just like going to the Blue Man Group; those in the “splash zone” should be prepped with ponchos.
It was our desire to harness this phenomenon that helped us to come up with the ‘trick’ Moses does that makes us most proud. We can use it when he gets
out of the water after a swim, or any other time we want attempt to pre-empt the inevitable soaking.
And how did we get there? We discovered if you blow lightly into Moses’ face, the tickling causes Moses to shake his head and send drool flying. So, using the simple premise of capturing the behavior and putting some verbal associations with it (easier said than done, but that’s the cliff notes version), we were able to come up with Moses’ “motorboat” signal.
And here is what that looks like:
And even though it might not be something super cute like rolling over and “playing dead”, we’re happy to say it’s both practical AND a crowd pleaser!
So now I’m curious: what are some of the most fun, challenging, or unique skills and tricks you have mastered with your pooch? Or what goals to you have for new ones?
Many thanks to Kristine for offering me the opportunity to guest-blog!