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14 Days and Counting

February 24, 2012

In two weeks, Cooper will take his very first Canine Good Citizenship training. Since he tends to have a few … um … issues with certain items on the test, I’ve been focusing on trying to get his little behaviors under control.

So, every day, during our walks, I’ve been redirecting his attention with smelly and tempting treats when we pass barking dogs in their fenced yards, other dogs being walked by their owners, joggers and random people on the street. The going was very slow at first. During the first few days, whenever we’d pass by a dog going nuts behind a fence, the ensuing spectacle would go something like this:

  1. Cooper would immediately react, lunging and barking at the unseen enemy/potential new best friend
  2. I’d wave a smelly treat in front of Cooper’s nose
  3. Cooper would spin toward me
  4. I’d make him sit and then give him the treat
  5. Upon gulping down the treat, Cooper would spin back toward the fence and begin lunging and barking at his unseen enemy/potential new best friend all over again


But I persisted. At each dog behind a fence, treat. At each bark, treat. At each person running by, treat. At every pedestrian who wanted to greet Cooper, sit and then treat. Eventually, I managed to get Cooper to sit and wait a few seconds for the treat, even while the other dog was still going nuts.

Then, last week, we had a set back. On two walks in a row, Cooper reacted the moment he heard any other dog and would barely respond to the treats. It was all I could do not to just drag him down the street by the scruff of his neck.


Still, I persisted. And, over the last two days, we’ve had glimmers of hope.

Yesterday, during our walk, instead of barking and lunging when he heard another dog behind a fence, Cooper would whimper, keep walking and look at me, waiting for his treat. When a man passed on the other side of the road with three barking dachshunds, Cooper whimpered and let out a half bark, but followed my commands to sit and wait. When we encountered them for the second time, he sat and waited for me, turning to look at the other dogs with passing interest before looking back to me to see if he’d get his treat.

Today, he didn’t even whimper. Instead, every time he heard a dog bark or saw a person walk past, he’d look at me to see if he’d get a treat. The only thing that seemed to trip us up today was when his desire to sniff around newly turned soil on a construction site clashed with my desire to keep going. Otherwise, the walk was as close as we’ve ever come to perfect.

Maybe he’ll turn out to be a Good Citizen after all.

From → Animals, Cooper

  1. Meaue permalink

    Good boy, Coop!

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