I was complaining to the husband the other night that Lumen’s only fault is that she doesn’t get excited. I’m serious- this is a dog who doesn’t get excited when you pick up the leads and keys to go for a walk, but rather plods about calmly and, when released from the door, wanders through without speed or enthusiasm. She doesn’t get overly excited at dinner-time, or about any particular toy. She doesn’t have an obsession, which in some ways I can appreciate (the story of Penny’s Panshanger bringing her friend sticks all night while they were out camping so he woke up looking like he was ready to be set alight comes to mind), but in other ways frustrates me because it means I have no real jackpot. Nothing that really makes her want to work.
This morning I was reading a blog I’ve recently subscribed to, and she wrote about ‘playing with your dog their way‘. Yeah, yeah, I thought. I know. But I read it anyway and to sum it up: some dogs play rough and like playing rough (tug, wrestling, etc), some dogs are chasers. Lu tends to flip between either style quite happily, depending on the dog, although she has a strong preference for chasing/being chased. At the park she loves nothing more than a game of keep-away with other dogs. She loves it so much that once she picked up a poo-bag (filled with her own poo) and played keep-away with another dog. The prize was the poo-bag. Yep. She loves keep-away. And if there’s nothing to keep, she just loves being chased. Sometimes I try and incorporate this into our training but of course I don’t do it properly, and can’t really run after her, and if I spend all my training time running around chasing her I’ll be too tired to actually train! But I feel like I need to do something, to make my rewards better.
So I took the advice of the post and on Monday evening I played a new game. I got out a ball that Lumen likes OK (the hollee-roller ball) but pretty quickly looses interest in. I did a cik around the bollard inside, threw the ball behind me and ran off in the opposite direction. Lu grabbed the ball and came hurtling into the kitchen after me, feed sliding everywhere on the wooden floors. I was waiting for her in ‘monster pose’ – hands like claws, body ready, and she does what she does when faced with the monster which is to jump at it with her front feet. I grabbed the ball, tugged very briefly, pulled her to the side and… ran off again! Again, she came hurtling after me, pounced, and tugged. Ah ha.
We played this a few times and every time she responded with enthusiasm and a lot more tugging than normal. And I’m not all that fussed about the tugging, I really just want a game that she’ll love, that she’ll be dying to play. And I know, it’s very different inside our house with Mal joining in to at the field where she’s very much in ‘work’ mode, but I’ve been able to transfer the ‘race to the toy’ game pretty well to the field, so why not play this game where I gave more space and she doesn’t have to injure herself on the floorboards?
It didn’t take long until we were both puffing, but let me say I got a lot of enthusiasm and happiness out of her for the few cik/tok reps we did. I’ll keep you posted on our progress. Hopefully I’m on to a winner.