Friday, December 7, 2012

What Riley Wants, Riley Gets

Well, that’s not quite true.  There are times when I say, in my sternest of voices, “Riley, go lie down” or “No, Riley, no more treats”. 

But most times I try to accommodate her.  She is a very clear communicator and good timekeeper – she knows when she is supposed to go for her walks, when it is meal time, when it is snack time, and when it is bedtime.

And she has very definite ideas about the appropriate pace for walking and the correct place for her bed to be.

Apparently, Eddie and I were walking a bit too quickly for her, though we were going more slowly than usual.  Riley has obviously come from the school that teaches “If your dog is pulling on the leash, stand like a tree.  When the leash slackens, resume walking.  When the leash goes tight again, stand like a tree. Repeat."

Riley decided this would be the technique to use to train a human.  Whenever Eddie and I walked in front of her and her leash started to tighten, she stood like a tree.  All four feet firmly planted, staring straight ahead ignoring me until I moved back a bit to let the leash go slack.  Then she continued to plod along until I'm too far ahead again and the lines goes taut – and stands like a tree.  

I soon realized why this technique is so effective for teaching dogs not to pull – it is annoying as heck to be enjoying your walk and get stopped short every four or five steps!!  We have since adjusted our pace to hers, and Eddie gets an extra walk at a faster pace after we take Riley back to the house. 

Then there were the sleeping arrangements.  I knew Riley was used to sleeping on her own cushy bed in her humans’ bedroom, so I placed her bed in the only space large enough to accomodate it, between my bed and the window.  She wasn’t too happy with this arrangement, especially as I get in and out of bed on the other side (closest to the door), and tend to sleep closer to that side also.  So during the night, for several nights, she got up, came to ‘my’ side of the bed, and nosed at me.  I wasn’t getting the message, so one night she just plonked herself down beside ‘my’ side of the bed and slept there, on the floor, all night long.

She’s a senior, and an achy one at that, so even though she runs the risk of getting stepped on when I get up during the night for the bathroom break, I moved the bedroom furniture to make room for her bed in the space she wanted to sleep.  Riley - 2, Jean - 0.

These requests of hers, to slow down, to move the bed to a place she liked better, are easy to accommodate and make life with dogs so much easier.  

What Riley wants, Riley gets. 

Now, if only I could teach her to reward me with treats.

Hmmmm..... I wonder what it would take
to get Auntie Jean to move the couch
into the bedroom?


georgia little pea said...

I like this dog! She's very communicative indeed. And you're just a pushover Ms Jean HAHAHA!

Anonymous said...

Reading this made me chuckle- and reminisce about my dog (who passed 5 years ago)
His name was Pablo (Picasso).. the lovable A@%$#
I called him.
He did the same trick Riley did! He taught me to heel.
He was so smart & cute and creative with his games i.e.
"what can I get her to do for me next"..... who could resist!

Dawn said...

Riley is a great dog, I am sure. But there is more to this story. Many people would react quite differently to her attempts to "communicate what she wants". They might call her stubborn, annoying, even impossible.

But you take the time to understand her and accept her for who she is. That makes you a very special person, Jean.

Jean said...

Ha ha Dawn - Riley is a very sweet, gentle old soul. Like many collies and shelties, however, she is a Princess - she presents herself with a quiet graciousness and independence that carries authority.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Jean for posting about my old girl's antics. She does indeed know how to make her wishes known. She only began her "tree" act a few months ago (I call it her donkey pose) as her arthritis progressed and she could no longer keep up comfortably to a quick pace. She soon figured out how to train me to slow down! As for sleeping arrangements, she has always preferred to sleep on the floor right beside me. Our compromise at home has been to place her bed just out of the way of my own route to the bathroom. Thank you for accommodating her wishes. She's not very demanding but there are a few things she's quite adamant about!

Deb S.