Monday, December 3, 2012

Dog Training



Teachable Moment, Definition: An unplanned opportunity that arises where a teacher has an ideal chance to offer insight to the student.

As some of you may know, I’m in the market for a second dog, a boxer dog, and no fewer than three friends have contacted me about the same dog -- a deaf, one-year old white boxer advertised on Freecycle.

I’m perfectly fine with the color and the age of the girl. I’m certainly down with the price. But the deaf part might prove a stumbling block. You see, while there are advocates of one training method or another – the clicker, rewards, the Koehler method, dominance, impression, and so forth – my school is strictly verbal.

As to how that works, we start with the basics, usually behavior-specific corrections: "Will you shut the fuck up," for openers; followed by "Will you fucking heel," and "Get the fuck down."

Once grasped, we can then move on to a more conceptual level of communication, such as, “Why did you fucking eat that,” graduating to, "What the fuck did you think you were doing."

As with us all, it may take years before the dog reaches some sense of probity, then and only then can we elevate the conversation to philosophical arguments, spur discussions regarding Cartesian dualism for example, with, "Do you ever fucking think," and, "Are you fucking out of your mind."

After we’ve truly bonded, reached that mystical state of mutual understanding, we can look in each other’s eyes and know what the other is thinking. "Oh fuck, you didn't," hangs in the air. But no words are needed. We just know it’s there.

Back to the deaf white boxer. I did look up sign language. Likely we’d get about as far as the index finger and thumb forming a C for both of us to lose the immediacy of the teachable moment. And at that point, likely I’d just say “Screw it, when you finish eating my underwear we'll play some ball and call it a day."


43 comments:

  1. How does Albert feel about another roommate?
    The deaf boxer may be work, but I betcha she will catch on!. Bet she's a sweetie!.

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  2. btw the first photo is darn sweet... those eyes are priceless.

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  3. Hilarious! I shouldn't have been drinking wine near the keyboard.

    When I took Abby to the agency that said they'd get her into the movies (a total scam, by the way), they said we'd have to learn sign language, because you can't yell instructions to a dog in the middle of a shoot - I guess that makes sense. It seemed like a lot of work, as they wanted me to sign on for 6 months. I like the idea of you walking a pair of black&white dogs, like the whisky, but you've got enough on your plate right now (Albert) without having to learn dog sign language as well.

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  4. I thinks, therefore Iams.

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  5. You get such great pictures of Albert! The first one is priceless.

    Your post is so funny! As a former dog owner, been there...

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  6. I see the problem. We K9's could see something like this happening with some of our servants.

    Therefore, I recommend a book (or, is it a video?) called, Dog Training for Humans.
    It so just happens you can get it at Webster's Very Fine Stationer's. In your 'hood, Altadena, of course.

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  7. Very funny. I hope you find the right new roomie.

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  8. Oh-oh, KB. There lies the very great risk that lacking ability to hear your gentle commands, this girl will take her cues on what to do from Albert. Good grief. I just had all the broken tiles on my roof replaced. Please don't bring a brace of Roofwalkers around! My small plant nursery is quite fine, thank you very much. I will be happy to get a dog fix in any large public place of your choosing, any dogs of your choice.

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  9. This is hysterical.

    However, on Albert's behalf I shall aver that he does not hear your cursing. He understands, "she loves me! She really loves me!"

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  10. I've heard wonderful stories about humans and their deaf dogs, but it must be a long journey before you reach that state of mystical understanding you and Albert have reached. I'm sure the perfect pooch for you and Albert will show up in no time.

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  11. I recognize that face. Her butt was wagging, too, wasn't it? Even though she was sitting down.

    My girlfriend had a deaf dalmation. Sweetest girl, but man, she had wicked gas (the dog, not my girlfriend). Funny the things you remember about the dearly departed. She was pretty well behaved, although I'm not sure how my girlfriend went about training her. It would certainly be a challenge.

    As for the methods...have you bugged my house? I never knew we shared the same training technique. I've noticed that the day after I have a major meltdown that involves phrases like "I am NEVER getting another dog!" and "She never fucking listens!", as well as "She's driving me fucking crazy!" she's usually calm and relaxed. I wonder if she realizes how close she's come to termination.

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  12. KBF, I'm sure she'd catch on. The question is, would I?

    Bellis, I love that you considered sending Abby out to earn her keep.

    Ms M, no doubt about, the camera loves Albert.

    I'll find the right dog Susan & Margaret. But I'm kind of with Doris, wouldn't a deaf dog turn to the other dog for guidance -- giving me two Alberts? And as you can tell, Albert has already been banned from most polite establishments.

    Des, so it's fucking hopeless?

    Carolyn, oh yes, I left out the part about idle threats. (Our dogs are painfully similar, except yours has a Canadian accent.)

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  13. Albert is so photogenic. Too funny. If I hear of another dog I'll let you know.

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  14. As an aside, and re your communication dialect, I am reminded of a cat we once had who truly believed his name was Hiram-You-Sonuvabitch, because that was how he was almost always addressed. It wasn't just us, but also the sweet girl next door whose horse Hiram always ambushed while she rode it around under the trees. Animal traing manuals will not teach you this form of address.

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  15. Once again, thank you. You and I use the same verbal training method. Joe is apparently deaf. I thought it was me.

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  16. We had a deaf white Boxer at our dog park and she lived in a house with a black Lab. When the Boxer was called the Lab would go and nudge her and she would then turn to the owners. They do adapt that for sure!

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  17. I kind of picture Albert taking his cues from the new dog, not the other way around. Will be interested to see what happens when you find your new dog.

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  18. I don't like white boxers. OK, I said it. White Shepherds yes, Boxers no.

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  19. Roberta, it was much appreciated. Keep an eye out.

    Doris, I'm thinking there's a training manual begging to be written.

    Terri, you're in the club.

    Red Pat, that's such a sweet thought. But I can't take Albert to dog parks because he fights.

    Jean, boxer females are generally alpha, so I figure she'll take him down a peg.

    PA, be that way. Fawn, white, purple -- it's all the same to me. Altho I was always partial to black labs; the myth is that they're smarter than the blonds because they're not so overbred. Either Albert exposes the myth, or he's the exception that proves the rule.

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  20. You know where we got Boz, and I've never known a more docile, trainable dog. I doubt that's what you want--a feisty dog would be more your style. But they have all kinds of Boxers there and they all need homes.

    I don't blame you for not wanting to take on a deaf dog. Any dog requires commitment, and a deaf dog needs more.

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  21. I adopted Phoebe from the same place. And volunteer there. I wouldn't have a problem with a deaf boxer, actually. It's just special-needs Albert that's the problem.

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  22. I didn't know you still volunteered there. Then the right one will find you.

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  23. How to Train Your Dog in Four Letters or Less. [Cats are more complicated. They need lots of letters and hyphens].

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  24. Love the pictures of Albert!
    About a second dog, all boxers I know are very sweet.

    This post is just funny! (...) "conversation to philosophical arguments" (...) Lol!

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  25. Hilarious. If you need to practice with a completely untrainable, deaf dog you can borrow Barkley for a few days. ill send him over.

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  26. What a beautiful baby. I'm not a great trainer, my dog is so little that when he's naughty, I just pick him up. Good luck on your decision.

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  27. Sounds like you subscribe to the same school of dog training I follow. "What the fuck were you thinking" is a biggie (works for kids, too). Thankfully, mastiffs, my preferred breed, are pretty smart, and catch on quickly to "Get the fuck outside! Dammit! No barfing (or whatever) indoors!"

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  28. John, I'll keep that in mind.

    Patricia, two words: Eighty pounds.

    Marjie, A word in favor of Albert -- when he must ralph, he speeds towards the door and spills it in the backyard. Phoebe was, "Must...hold...vomit...until I reach...the..persian rug."

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  29. I think the combo could be disastrous. While gesticulating at Albert for one reason or another, you may be instructing the other dog to barf in an inappropriate location. Seems like the white pup would be better in a one-dog household? Good luck with your search. Will keep my eyes and ears open for a boxer that might meet your, and Albert's, needs.

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  30. Had some Sheps that I shared an unspoken understanding with; Ol' Bear Dog and Chewie.
    ' took years, really, for that closeness to set in - I'm rather thickheaded sometimes, but dogs, and Sheps in particular, have a great capacity for human frailties.

    I did meet this Lab out near Grenora, ND, who I got along famously with after only a chance meeting. I think we were both in love with those open spaces, plus we shared an equal fascination with the local Coyote population. And Deli lunchmeat.

    Dottie is particularly willful as most Cavs are, but she is my baby girl, so that bond makes up for our mutual shortcomings.

    Now Bella the Rat Terrier, AKA Mouseface, may actually be closer than any dog I've lived with. She'll back me up even in the face of those poor hoodie Pits that have no real loving guidance, and I, her. We're both feisty that way.

    A Boxer deaf from birth? Sounds like a challenge. Dogs are happier and more well adjusted in a pack for sure, But having the time to become acquainted to the point of being inseperable would be tough in the situation you describe.

    Patience, patience, patience . . . would never have learned it without my canine friends.

    Give Al a kiss for me.

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  31. That will be quite a challange, but perhaps not insurmontable....Or, is it? I love your description of training a 'hearing' dog...lol....
    Good luck wih making a decision here...Maybe meet that lovely white dog and see if you connect.

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  32. I tried really hard not to start laughing at paragraph 3. I failed. Then continued to fail.

    Also, I was reminded of Dexter's gutter-mouthed sister Deb on the TV show. (She's both comic relief and the belly of tragedy--a remarkable character).

    Cesar, the dog whisperer--he uses almost no words. Is that relevant?

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  33. Ken, you'd better, or there will be a cascade of F-bombs on your innocent head. You will be shocked. You will flutter your fan.

    So yes, pay attention.

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  34. Re Banjo's last two: Our German Shepard responded readily to almost sotto voce words, "Romulus, sit. Lie down, boy. Etc" A guest who was sure he knew how to handle big dogs one time was shouting at him to "Sit! Sit! SIT!" which resulted in much barking and shouting, no sitting. Problem solved by telling the visitor to shut the fuck up and whispering to Rom that it was OK, just lie down, which he did. Just need to know where to direct them commands.

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  35. Doris, There's a quote somewhere that I can't find, but the gist is, if you want to feel inadequate, try telling someone else's dog to sit down. My dogs have always taken the words of others, soto voce or otherwise, with a grain of salt.

    Hey Earl, parlez-vous.

    Thanks Adele. When I got Phoebe, I was fine with a three year old fighting girl with worms and kennel cough. Given Albert, must be under a year old female and healthy. So I'm thinking I'll end up with a puppy.

    Bandit, are still out in the wild west? I'm glad a terrier has your back. So do I.

    Banjo, yeah, no use trying to shock Kenny Mac, he lives in Greenwich Village. In the equine world, we'd call him bombproof.

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  36. Hahahahahahahahaha!!!

    Kelly doesn't know how to sit or lie down on command...but she knows how to snuggle without prompting!!!

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  37. But if you learn enough sign language she could do this...maybe you could jump for joy together?

    Jumping boxer

    Après undies al fresco that is...

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  38. All of my dogs must have been deaf for all the good it did to try and train them. With cats, you just let them train you.
    V

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  39. Meeps has taught you well Virginia!

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  40. I do have a white Boxer and yes, she's deaf. What she lacks in hearing she makes up for in both attitude and, well, I'll call it a spiritual connection. Sign language? Yes. The usual stuff, sit, stay, good, bad, etc. Spirit dog seems to know when I'm feeling "sit the eff down", etc. That's when attitude comes out as in "I'm not going in there with you, your attitude is wrong" or "I'll be in the kitchen if you need me." She's a smart little something.

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