Every week for my dog training apprenticeship, I need to teach an exercise, and this week's exercise is "wait." This exercise differs from "stay" in that "wait" simply prompts the dog to pause in whatever he's doing and not move any further forward until released. On the other hand, "stay"-- which is usually paired with a sit or a down -- requires a dog to not only pause but to remain unmovingly in position until released, which is quite difficult for many dogs, especially puppies, to do.
(There's half my spiel right there.)
Public speaking is not really my forte, but I perform much better when I prepare beforehand. To that end, I've written and practiced my spiel, and have been coupling that with actually pretending to teach the "wait" cue to Allie. As I will suggest to my students this evening, I've been practicing at her mealtimes.
Allie is not exactly thrilled with being my practice demo dog for this exercise. I taught her this manuever years ago when she was a puppy after she mowed me down one too many times in her eagerness to eat start her dinner while I was still setting her dish on the floor. But she waits like a champ now -- and her reaction to having to wait longer for her dinner than usual as I pretend to demo the exercise to an invisible audience is difficult for me to ignore.
She barks. Loudly. I can practically hear her saying, "Dammit, I know how to do this. You've been making me do it for years. I do it right. Why in hell are you making me wait so long all of a sudden? Just gimme my dinner, will ya?"
Eventually, of course, I do. I tell myself that it's good to practice amid distractions -- and my Golden girl's diatribe is indeed a distraction. In any case, though, I've probably practiced enough. Undoubtedly Allie will be relieved to have mealtimes go back to normal.
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