Barking mad – a lesson in dog training

Three mainly white border collie puppies

I was thinking about dog training - on Saturday night, actually. Gill has long believed that the best thing to do about bad behaviour is to make it unrewarding, usually by simply ignoring it. This works well in the case of a first offence, especially with puppies that are really only craving attention. (This only applies to Border collies of course; she doesn’t try it with me. I look so cute when I’m misbehaving that ignoring me just isn’t an option.)

Well on Saturday night one of the outside dogs was making a fuss, and barking. She was ignored for ages, but didn’t stop. Andy went to make sure there was nothing wrong, and there didn’t seem to be, but she continued to bark and I was getting quite tense I can tell you. I need my sleep.

Eventually Andy wondered if she was complaining because she was hungry. She wasn’t fed when the other dogs were fed that evening, because she hadn’t eaten her breakfast. He took her a very late supper; she ate it, and then settled down for the night (and so could we).

But it got me to thinking. “Bark, bark, bark” = food. Hmm…

I looked at Chester, but before I could say a word he said, “If you do, you’re on your own, Big Guy” and tucked his head under the blanket. Of course, I didn’t (I’m watching my waist line) but I thought that any dog with half a brain isn’t going to forget a lesson like that in a hurry.

I was forgetting - this is a collie we’re talking about. Sunday night came, and she didn’t make a peep!

It’s still true that it’s as easy to teach bad habits as good habits to a collie, but as Andy tries to explain in his DVD, sometimes you have to relax, let things go the dog’s way and see what happens.  He’s always saying, “Have faith in your dog” and in this case, the dog seems to have repaid him.

But what a wasted opportunity!

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