Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"What Are You Training With Your Dog?"

My son has both an advantage and disadvantage using Ranger for his 4-H dog project. The advantage is that Ranger already knows all the basics and makes the other dogs look untrained. The disadvantage is that 4-H training time can get pretty boring for both the son and Ranger. Last night was a no dogs meeting and among other things an adult leader went around the table and asked each child what they were training with their dog. Most answers were working on stays, working with distractions, etc., my son when asked calmly informed the leader that we're teaching Ranger to sign and to carry a bucket. A blank look from the leader who clearly had no idea what was meant by teaching the dog to sign then praise for working with the dog and moving on to the next kid. I'm rather sorry she didn't ask for clarification. She's rather old school in her assessment of canine cognition assuming that dog's aren't all that intelligent so it would have been interesting to see her reaction when he explained that we are teaching Ranger a number of gestured symbols (signs) that correspond to human words so that Ranger can tell us what he wants and needs. I hadn't really thought about it but we're doing a very good thing not only for Ranger but also for the children. They're growing up in a household where it is accepted as a given that animals can communicate with us. I like thinking how much richer their lives will be for starting with that expectation.

And yes Ranger has some small plastic buckets with rope handles that my son is teaching him to carry by the handle. So far Ranger will pick up the bucket but he's still working on learning to hold it until released the step necessary prior to learning to walk with it in his teeth. I can imagine Ranger delivering items to the children for them to put away. Ranger, take bucket (load bucket with earbuds that were left on the couch) find (child name here).

1 comment:

  1. Won't she be surprised when she sees Ranger in action! Take your camera!