This week-end we went to our weekly doggy class with Bono, as usual. And he had a hard time doing the immobility exercises.
I’d ask him to stay then I’d take a few steps. He’d wait for two seconds and boopidybah…He’d follow me, instead of staying. Why wasn’t he listening? Was he being arrogant? Was he trying to show me he does only what he wants?
“Puppy, stay!” It sounds so simple. But for your dog, it’s a real challenge. He might fear you won’t come back, he might have the zoomies*, he might be worried or intrigued about something new in his environment. He might just not have the patience or self-control to stay still. It’s a game of teaching him to ignore as many types of distractions as possible and to focus on the task at hand.
So let’s figure out why Bono didn’t do the stay. You see, it’s spring and new puppies are coming to the doggy school. During the last half of our class, they were waiting on the other side of the fence. Actually, they weren’t just waiting. They were playing and yelping and being puppies.
On top of that, a handyman was hammering and repairing things around. These are two levels of difficulty we hadn’t worked on yet. Two new types of distractions. Can you see now why Bono struggled to pay attention to me? It’s not because he didn’t want to. He just couldn’t.
It’s as if you took some piano lessons and now you can play the Happy Birthday song. You’re all proud of yourself and you’re happy to perform. Then your mom asks you to play Gaspard de la Nuit. What song is that? I don’t know, I just typed “difficult piano pieces” in Google and this is what came up.
So your mom can yell, beg, wave cookies in front of your nose, she can tell you, “Come on honey, you can do it!” It won’t help. Only serious training will get you there.
It’s the same with dogs. You can’t expect your dog to be able to do a stay at the park, if he doesn’t yet know how to stay in your living room, when it’s just the two of you. Only progressive training will get you there.
As for Bono, the good news is now we get to train on these new levels of difficulty. I don’t know if the handyman will come back. But those puppies will be there next week and the week after that and so on. We’ll start working the stay at the other side of the yard. Then we’ll move closer to the fence as Bono progresses. And did I mention we’ve got treats? We do.
*the zoomies = a common case of energy in excess, running around and being silly
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