How Training Works – Just Use a Weiner … or not …

Bear

It’s after lunch and I’m trudging out to the barn where my car is parked, Bear and Charlie at my side, the cold wind blowing through our hair, the pocket of my parka stuffed with a package of out-of-date, slimy weiners. My intent is to start training Bear to get in the car, and Charlie is along to play the role of  “I will get that bite of weiner if you don’t hurry!”

The object, again, is to teach Bear to get in the car, something she has not done except under extreme pressure — and then only once — since I brought her home from the animal shelter last July. At that time two friends accompanied me to the car to help me load up Bear, because as a yearling Great Pyrenees she already weighed around 80 lbs. She shocked us all by literally vaulting into the back of the car before I could even get the tailgate all the way down. She threw up on the way home, but she came willingly. I guess she really, really wanted to leave that life behind — forever.

But once home — and she made it hers very quickly — she obviously decided never to leave again. The one time I took her somewhere, only to be evaluated for grooming, it took three of us to lever her up into the back seat of the truck, and she then refused to budge, much less get out, when the groomer came out to inspect her.

Having won a lesson at a highly acclaimed local dog-training school 4 months ago, I am now dealing with how to get Bear there for said lesson. She’s a very big dog and a very protective dog. She needs the work, and I need to trust that she will answer to me. I am assured that weiners are the key to successful training so out we go for our first lesson on “getting in the car.” We did pretty good. After 3 weiner’s worth of “Up!” — with said weinie bits carefully poised on the tailgate just out of reach — Bear finally succeeded in placing the top half of her body into the car in order to reach the prize. I figured that was enough for one day, especially given our numbing temperaturess right now, so we will pursue this again tomorrow. Charlie got his bites too and did his job very well.

I’ll admit. I was impressed. The weiner thing works really well!

But here’s another example of how training works:

Frida, my 5-lb. long-haired Chihuahua, has recently succeeded in RE-training me as to how she gets into my bed every night. She has slept with me, under the covers, since childhood and has her own footstool-leading-to-trunk-leading-to-bed staircase to get up and down with. She can scale this structure in less than the blink of an eye and usually just goes sailing off in a flying leap when she is motivated to get down for whatever reason.

“But no, Mom. I really like it best when you pick me up and PUT me on the bed.”

I feel as dim as a burned-out lightbulb, but I finally got it as I lay there in the dark last night listening to Frida’s pathetic whimperings and wooflings to be picked up and put in bed: “Damn! I’ve been trained!” I thought, as I threw back the covers, reached down, and lifted her tiny body up into our cozy nest.

And she didn’t even have to use weiners. Go figure.

Frida ... guess where?

I’m just a bit embarrassed here ……..

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