Things my dog knows26 Feb 2019
Training Wish has taught me about the huge difference between knowing a command and reliably obeying it. She can do some neat tricks in the house, but in the presence of a squirrel she forgets the word “sit.” So the following list of things Wish knows feels silly, since most of the work we’ve done has centered on soft skills like focusing and staying calm in scary situations. She has made an enormous amount of progress in staying focused and obedient around new people, cars, and distant or unfriendly dogs, but squirrels and nearby, friendly dogs are still challenges.
Things Wish knows, unless there’s a nearby squirrel or friendly dog
Basic obedience crucial for safety
I’ve been delighted to see these skills carry over to agility class, despite the presence of strange people and dogs. She’s totally wild if I don’t tell her what to do – zooming around, hopping fences, and searching for food – but if I tell her what to do, she does it.
- Come: The one command she is 100% reliable with; she will come when called even if she sees a squirrel or is playing with a dog
- Sit and stay until I say “okay”
- Lie down and stay until I say “okay”
- Leave it
- Wish: Pay attention
Teaching Wish to run without pulling on the leash and stay close when off leash has been by far the most difficult thing to train.
- This way: Run in the direction I’m running (used when she starts going down the wrong trail)
- Slow: Leave more slack in the leash
- Whoa: You’re too far away
- Turn: Run in the opposite direction
- Wait: Stay where you are until I say “okay”
Living in human society politely
Again, Wish is basically a wild tornado who will be polite as long as you tell her exactly how to do it.
- Ring the bell when you want to go outside
- Excuse me: You’re in my way
- Off: Get your paws off of a person or counter
- Back: Step backwards
- Crate: Go in your crate and don’t leave until I say “okay”
- Go to your mat: Lie down on whatever I indicate (generally a bed or towel) and don’t leave until I say “okay”
- No dogs: Don’t go through the door I’m going through
- Default sit: Sit to say please or when you’re not sure what to do
- Shh: This stops her from barking. It works for about one second.
- Don’t put your teeth on human skin
- Be careful with your paws, especially on bare skin
- Don’t run on people lying down
- Get it: Grab the toy in my hand
- Agility commands: Jump, tunnel, climb, table
- Useless tricks: Walk between my legs, do figure eights around my legs, “gimme your nose”
- Targeting: See this thing? Go touch it then come back to me.
- Understanding pointing: Which thing should you target? The one I’m pointing at.
Works in progress
- All of the above in the presence of serious distractions
- Don’t bark at scary people who come in or near the house
- When you see something scary, look at it, then look back at your person for a treat
- Pay attention to your person in the presence of strange dogs; ask permission before you want to play
- Don’t grab the toy if it hasn’t been explicitly offered to you
- Drop a toy that a person is holding on to (currently, playing tug-of-war with it is too tempting)
- Harness: Stick your head into your harness
- Paw: Put your paw on my hand and let me grab it
- Left and right: We’ve used these words to mean several slightly different things, and now she’s confused
- Give: Hand over the ball or toy
- Obstacle discrimination in agility: When running at high speeds, Wish goes for whatever obstacle looks most obvious to her, rather than the one I tell her to do.
- Human: Stand on your hind legs