I tried to make a list of all the words I use to tell my dogs what to do - or not to do. I sorted the list by categories - home, obedience, agility. Many of the words are used in all places. Stay always means stay, but OK means get up and move around in obedience, free means stop staying and run like a crazy dog in agility. I keep remembering more words I use or creating new ones. We are walking, walking, jogging, walking in order to get Jazz healthy again and I live on a busy rural road. No sidewalks and narrow shoulders. I am teaching the dogs the word shoulder (couldn't think of anything else) and it means get off the pavement and face yourselves into the ditch. Hopefully it will keep us all from getting run over by the idiots who drive giant camper things towing cars at 50 miles an hour down a narrow gravel road.
One of the problems with so many words is that I forget them - hence the list! I also use them wrong, change my mind and generally worry more about them than is really appropriate. I listen to other people's words and change my mind some more. I have word envy.
I learned in a recent class that I need a single, easy, marker word. Good dog, way to go, yippee etc are not very easy for the dog to recognize and take too long to say. I started using the word yes. Maybe some of you are smart enough to see this one coming. I am running around the agility course yelling yes, yes!!, YES!! and I sound like that incredibly stupid annoying shampoo commercial. I don't have much pride, (if I did I might have gotten a nice border collie instead of Samoyeds,) but I really feel like a moron yelling yes all the time. I know lots of other people who use that word and it sounds fine, it just doesn't sound fine when I use it. So I changed my mind and decided to use click. It's short, easy to remember, doesn't sound any dumber than any other marker word and it's not very likely to be used in any other context.
So now I have this nice shiny new marker word. I wonder how long it will take me to learn to use it? The dogs understand that click is good and gets them a treat because I loaded the word the same way I loaded a real clicker. Click treat, click treat. Last night at agility practice I said - "yes...click..good boy!" I said "click ....good boy." I said jump and pointed at a tunnel. I said "click jump." I said "weave" and then said click before he ever did the weaves. You see the problem.
Words. It's a good thing the dogs don't really seem to pay any attention to what I say. I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to work on that too, but right now - who could blame them?
By the way - Coach has revisited the vet and his boys now have some kind of secondary infection. What a mess. Who knows what comedy of errors has caused this, but we are still working on a solution. Her comment was - for now - let's just leave his testicles alone. We are using antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. She doesn't think I did anything wrong, just a case of too much of a good thing maybe?
I'll go back to something I can handle - click - treat.
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