Saturday, May 9, 2009

Sit, Loki, sit!

It has been about two weeks and the new member of our family is beginning to settle in to his new home in our house and hearts. It's an entirely new experience for me, one that I am really enjoying even though I have no idea what I am doing.

Valery bought a book about Border Collies from which I have already learned a great deal about the consistent care and focused training Loki will require in order to live successfully with us. I really think we've made the right choice with him but we really have to do some work here in the beginning. Actually, training him correctly will be a lot more like fun than work, even though it requires being consistent and focused--like work--because his energy and enthusiasm make the activity an exciting and rewarding for all of us, the dog included.

The first thing he is learning is how to sit. He already does it on command about ninety percent of the time, and clearly understands it as a command. As a puppy he requires constant reinforcement to make the connection between commands and actions, and as new dog owners, we require a similar reinforcement to make the connection between our desires and the dogs actions. He really does get it when you tell him, but I have learned that we've got to tell him, constantly and in a consistent, uncompromising way.

Anyone who tells you that there are similarities between raising a child and training a puppy has probably never done both successfully. It would be nice to think that our experiences with child rearing would come in handy for this exercise, but raising a dog requires a different, more basic set of skills. We decided to follow the book on training this one. Fortunately, there is one.

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