The key to any great relationship between a human and a dog is consistent, positive-focused training. Today’s dog trainers work to establish meaningful communication with their students while finding creative ways to encourage desired behavior and replace undesired behavior. It’s a far better path than the old days of correction based training.
I’m pleased to report that I think Kainan has really caught on.
Kainan, the wolfdog who moved into our world just over a year ago, is a smart, sneaky, playful, mischievous, furry force. At about 110 pounds with a reach that would make any NBA player jealous, the boy can wreak a little havoc around the house. Keeping things out of reach of the dogs has taken on a whole new meaning and action plan now that this guy is around.
I swear the other shorter canine residents see his potential and cheer him on.
“Hey Kainan, I think I smell barbecue…yes…check way back there on the counter.”
“Kainan! I think the hu-mom just left her freshly toasted bagel by her computer…unattended!”
“Whoa…do you see that K-man? A whole bag of marshmallows. I can’t reach it, but YOU can.”
Why yes, all of this has happened and then some.
He also steals things. Television remotes. Shoes. Shirts. Door mats. Bowls. Silverware. Pillows.
And lately? Socks.
We are in a huge sock phase. Clean socks, dirty socks, it matters not. He finds them, though I SWEAR I keep my laundry out of reach, and then it’s game on. The sock becomes a toy that he tosses up in the air and then pounces. I’m sure, in his wolf-inspired imagination, instead of a sock, he’s capturing some elusive, wild prey…that happens to smell exactly like my feet.
Far be it from me to ruin his fun, but I’m running dangerously short of matching socks (I just solved one of the great mysteries of the universe for you. Where do all of the missing socks go? The damn wolfdog has them.)
Time to get some training going. Chasing him down, cussing, and scolding just makes it a grand game of keep-away for my big elusive-as-hell-when-he-wants-to-be friend. So how do you turn a sock fiasco into a positive training exercise?
I decided that every time I caught him cavorting with a sock, I would tell him to come and sit. If, instead of bolting out the dog door with the prized sock, he complied with my request, I would offer a trade…a cookie for a sock. Comply, surrender the precious sock prey, get a little treat. Win-win. Right?
And so the training started. Kainan bolted through the living room with a sock, I issued a pleasant “Kainan come! Sit!” Kainan did just that. Nancy retrieved a slightly slobbered sock, Kainan received a yummy cookie. Yes! Good boy.
Mere moments later, Kainan showed up with another sock. Training must be consistent, right? Repeat the above paragraph.
Then Kainan showed up with another sock.
Getting the picture here? Pretty soon he was just directly bringing me socks, sitting, and looking expectantly at the cookie jar. Nary a cue from me required.
I’d say our training program is going really well. I know Kainan thinks it is.
He thinks I’m coming along quite nicely.