labels, plunk the correct currency down, find our way home and open a can of dog food without breaking a sweat.
little miffed that my Irish wolfhound and Scottish deerhounds rated dead
average. A lot of other readers squawked at the results too. There was nothing “average” or sub-par about their Bull terrier, Pug or Borzoi, they protested.
when I got a giant hound. Bonding became more than academic when I realized if we didn’t connect fast, telling him to “come” or “heel” would be about as effective as telling a glacier to turn left. At ten weeks old, Cuchulain, my Scottish deerhound, was bigger than many adult dogs. I read. Voraciously.
expressions and body language and he learned mine. He picked up a vocabulary of dozens of words like “no!” which he preferred to ignore, and “food” which made him dance.
What fascinates me about clicker training isn’t simply that the dog will sit
for a piece of cheese. It’s watching their intellect come alive.
One training clicker: $1.50. A bag of cheese cubes: $3. Watching your dog think: Priceless.
I now have three giant dogs who pay very close attention to me. If I’m not
fast enough giving a command, they’ll try something, anything, to show me
they’re thrilled to work for food. Want me to sit over here? How ‘bout if I
stand on three legs? Can I carry that bag of cheese for you?
It spills over from training to everyday companionship. Giant Finn cocks his head and listens when I talk to him. He doesn’t understand all the words, but he knows I’m communicating with him, and I’m the guy who makes fun things happen.
Bingo. Instant communication. I learned Sully’s not foggy. He’s merely overwhelmed by a world of exciting smells. But get his attention with something he likes (Sully would walk through fire for cheese), and the wheels turn. When I understood him, I respected him more and he thrived on the rapport.
Bob McMillan is an editor and columnist with the Cookeville Herald-Citizen
newspaper and lives on a mountain with several giant hounds and wary cats.
This column was originally printed in the Herald-Citizen
Please visit http://www.herald-citizen.com/ for more information on the
newspaper. We thank the Herald-Citizen
staff for allowing FFBF
to re-print this piece.