Thursday, July 21, 2005

New Trick

I'm trying to teach my terrier, Wimsey, a new trick: playing shy.

Our trainer suggested it--along with the straightforward method to teach the trick: I put a wad of tape on one side of his nose. He uses a paw to push it off--as though he's "shy." After several reps, he'll presumably understand and associate "be shy" with his paw movement.

Easy, right?

Well, after pushing it off a couple times, hearing a click, and getting his treat (cheese), Wimsey decided he could live with a wad of tape on his face. Sitting ramrod straight, he gave me a hard terrier stare, asking himself, no doubt, what had possessed his human. Finally gravity did its thing and the tape fell off.

As I tried to stop laughing, I accidently clicked. (That's his signal that he's done a stellar job on something and he can expect a treat pronto.) His eyes lit up, he got the cheese, and tried again.

Again, when I asked him to "be shy," Wimsey sat at attention with tape hanging off the side of his face again. When it finally hit the ground, he touched it with his paw. Oh, what the heck, I thought. And clicked.

So his mental lightbulb went on and he spent the next several minutes touching the tape, touching the tape dispenser, and touching the wad of tape again. FINE! I GIVE! You beat me again, you Wee One. And he happily touched and nibbled on the tape some more.

Never, ever forget: A terrier does not want to please you. A terrier wants to have fun with you.