I’ve been a bit vague here about the goals of my training with Frankie — so much so that my friend Mary, over at Dancing Dog Blog, assumed in a comment here that I was attempting to get Frankie to cease humping his houseguests. I can see where she might have gotten that impression. I alluded to that incident as my impetus to start training.
But Frankie is not a humper of humans, and we rarely get overnight dog guests, so being sexually inappropriate is not at the top of my list of behaviors I’d like to see changed.
In fact, “changing behaviors” isn’t even the right phrase for what I would like to have happen.
Q: How would you articulate our goals? Getting Frankie into the car more comfortably? Getting him to get over his fear of car rides?
A: To get Frankie to walk out the front door to the car without hunching his back, tucking his tail — and to be able to not only take food on the way, but to be able to follow a well-conditioned cue such as “Sit,” “Look at That,” etc. If that goes really well, we can see if we can get car rides conditioned — but that means that you will have to stop taking him anywhere in the car until it is conditioned, and I don’t see you wanting to do that — at least I wouldn’t if I had your routine.
In general, to teach you more about Frankie’s body language. The cool side effect of training, especially clicker training, is that even owners who are amazingly close to their dogs (such as yourself) become even closer because training has taught them to really watch their dog’s behavior. Since dogs “talk” through their body language, paying even closer attention to that helps the human end of the leash to better “hear” the other half of the daily conversation they have with their dogs. It is truly an amazing thing to watch. This is what is so reinforcing for me and many other clicker trainers.
Perhaps I am a “conditioner” then? That sounds rather clinical. And “dog communicator” sounds woo-woo. Well, at least you get an idea of what we’re aiming to do.
Explanation of the explanation, including a brief bout of (verboten) guilt
Frankie has been somewhat car phobic for as long as he’s been with me. I have always thought that, if only he had a smoother ride, he would not be afraid. There is some basis for this notion. He seemed a lot less unhappy riding in a mid-size rental car I got when my Hyundai was in the shop.
But since I cannot afford to buy Frankie an Escalade or an SUV (to which I am opposed anyway), he’s been SOL. I’d hoped Crystal could help.
Only now I’ve discovered that, not only do I have a shoddy ride, but I have a fear-inspiring house. True, I live on a very busy street — someone once said, I always wondered who lived on your street, and now I know, it’s ex-New Yorkers — but I always thought Frankie was used to the noise, as I am. Crystal pointed out that Frankie seemed disturbed by particularly loud noises — e.g., ambulances and police sirens — and that opening the front door, which we have to do in order to reach my car, was part of the reason he didn’t like to go out to the car.
Great. I’ll put “move out into the desert” on my to-do list, right after “get a new, quieter car.”
Next week: What we’ve been doing to address the issue, and how it’s been working.