From Rescue Dog to Guide Dog: Part 3

Learning the Language of Buddy

The first thing we noticed about Brian at “Way of the Dog” was that he was strangely unconcerned about training Buddy. We had brought to him a 90 pound, out of control, dog so that he could learn obedience (or at least not destroy our home) and Brian tells us obedience training is highly over rated. So I gave him a skeptical look and said;

Me: “At least I would like him to come when I call”.

Brian: “He doesn’t come?”

Me: “He runs the other way”

Brian: “That’s because he’s smart, and frankly there’s nothing good that is going to happen when you call him”

Me: (this time I gave him by cynical look) Ugh?

While we were talking, Buddy is engaged in playing with a Black Lab in the yard and has absolutely no interest in this adult conversation. Brian (still sitting) turns to Buddy, gives him a whistle and a shout and Buddy runs obediently to Brian. He gives Buddy a good ruff petting and then pushes him away. Buddy goes back to playing with the other dog and I sit there wondering what just happened.

Brian explains that Buddy doesn’t want to come because whenever I call him it’s because I want him to do something he doesn’t want to do – so naturally he’s going to run the other way. It would be like if the dentist called me up and asked me to visit him at his office … I’m not going because I know it’s going to hurt! (Sorry for all you painless dentists out there) I need to create a new expectation with Buddy that when I call it means PARTY TIME! And even if I occasionally call him because … let’s say a Mack Truck is about to flatten him in the street, he won’t associate those few unpleasant times because ordinarily when I call him it means ...

Break out your dancing shoes 'cause we’re going to have fun, fun, fun!

I guess this is what Brian means by calling his training, “Way of the Dog”. We need to think like a dog so that we’re communicating with him in his language rather than making him try to understand our language. After all we’re the intelligent ones … right?

So in Brian’s training there is a hierarchy of needs that must be met in order for us to get the “perfect” dog.

  1. Basic needs
  2. Socialization with other dogs
  3. Relationship with owners
  4. Communication: Speaking the language of the dog
  5. Training: Having the dog do what you ask him to do

During Buddy’s Adventure we’re going to walk through these steps. Did I say walk? No, we’re going to stumble through these steps because I am finding that dog language is more difficult than people language - and I totally bombed French class. (The teacher said I spoke French like Jacques Clouseau of Pink Panther fame. Here’s a classic example; and no, our dog does not bite!

Next week: Buddy is taught to socialize

or

Buddy learns to post on Doggie Face Book