“I can see you’re just not up to training a puppy,” Deborah told me. We were in the car, on the way to pick up our new Wheaten puppy from Jan Cunningham, down in Prince Edward County.
“What do you mean?” I asked her. She reminded me I hadn’t done very well training our previous dog, Rory. “You just weren’t into it,” she told me.
Two weeks later, we headed over to Esther McGee’s training school in Lindsay, with Morag in tow. “It’ll give us a chance to see how we’ve been doing,” I said. “Morag’s a year old, she’s housebroken, and she’s taken to our place like a duck to water.”
Esther gave us a hand-out on how to train a puppy. It was headed “Rank Reduction.” I looked over the rules.
Rule #1 – Never carry your dog! It make him your equal.
When we first arrived home with Morag, Deborah carried her into the house because the garage floor was dirty with mud and sand from the winter roads. This in and out of the car got to be a habit pretty quickly. In the house, Morag bounced around and sniffed out every corner. Then …
Rule #2 – Do not allow the dog on furniture!
Once done bouncing, Morag spied our white softa. In a giant leaping arc, she bounced over an end arm and onto the sofa where she sat dead-centre, with a smug self-satisfied look on her face. Deborah got a blanket to cover up the cushions. “Look,” she said, “the Sofa Queen!”
Rule #3 – Do not allow dog to sleep on your bed!
The first night we had Morag, I led her into her crate at bedtime. We’d put it in the laundry room. No problem, in she went, meek as could be. I’m into bed. Half an hour later, little murmurings are heard. Then a whimper. A whine. I go and get Morag and bring her to the bed. Now she knows just what her rank entitles her to – the pillow, unless it’s aleady occupied.
So you can see we’re doing about average - failing all tests. And that was just the first night. But we’ve taught Morag “Sit” and ”Down” on command. She’s learned that “Go Outside!” is her signal to bounce to the door and prepare to plunge into the snow.
For a brief hour Friday afternoon, with the sun shining and the air warming, it almost seems like Spring. Morag and I go for a romp on the frozen canal. She loves it. What I don’t anticipate are the snow balls she collects on her silky Wheaten hair. Takes an hour with hair dryer and towel to dry her out.
But there’s an easier solution. Esther has doggy snowsuits that’ll avoid all that. Who’s training who?