Yesterday, my dog leaned and executed a new "trick" faster than any dog I have ever taught.
I did once have an Alaskan Malamute, who was profoundly sentient, who knew how to learn things instantaneously - none of this Pavlovian repetition or pairing. The problem was that she was so independent in will that she seldom immediately executed what she had learnt. She simply KNEW. (Well, that dog was by all appearances a Malamute, but supposed was also a Lab. I tell you this in case you ever want an amazing wonderful, spiritual, loving dog, get one of these - but her passing will completely destroy you).
Last night, my present dog learnt how to execute "Say please" in about 7 seconds. At a DISTANCE. It was all about mood, independence, respect, psychology. But there was one caveat - he already knew the behaviour to display, he had just never pared it with any words. This is the SITTING POSE WITH PAW RAISED - either paw.
I believe this pose/behaviour is natural to canines, and so easy. But I believe this pose was probably also taught by his first owners, when he was a small pup - that's my guess. So, that's what made this so quick, as well. But he had never associated that pose with any words/commands from me, except sometimes, "paw up." And this was true when I was teaching him yesterday, because he did not associate it with "say please" until I had deliberately taught him to.
Well, here's the scenario, he saw me with his new friends, corn chips, and he wanted some, but I banished him. Then I changed my mind, and simply told him, "SAY PLEASE." He barked - great response. Then, "up! sit up!" - which he understands - another bark. Then, "SAY PLEASE," and up he sat and held up his paw. We both knew what he wanted, we both knew he would get corn chips, so there was no pressure - that's why it worked, so fast. I've had other times where I have taught dogs something really fast, but this was the best.
Well, I tested my new batch of homemade dog food on him this morning, and he DOESN'T like it. I tasted it. Too bland. I'll need to spice it up. It's a bad thing to introduce a dog to a new food and have their first memory of it be a bad one - so I had to obliterate that first impression. After he came in side, a bit of now-spiced-up dog food was on the kitchen floor. But first I threatened him with a knife! Playing. He is supposed to bark at me if I do that, which he enjoys. We did a little of that, which made him more interested in food, and he ate the dog food, and liked it - at least enough! Yay!
Dogs lose interest in food if they don't expect much fun or energy expenditure coming up that day. And they can gauge this according to their relationship to their "master" - if they are depressed or afraid of their master, they will tend not to eat. The exception to this is if they are significantly stressed and/or in fear of scarcity, or a threat to their food. Coming winter will also increase their eating, and sumer will decrease it.
OK - here's the REAL psychological stuff... Irritating scratching, nibbling, habitual, nervous behaviour from dogs - yes - can be caused by fleas - but can also be triggered or enhanced by a psychosomatic response to feeling inferior or irritated or cheated or disappointed or such. I've known this for a while. You get along fine, do a wee thing the dog doesn't like, and he automatically reverts to that nagging habitual scratching, etc.
Well, I have recently noticed that this sort of thing can be generalised emotionally, and drawn out over time, during times when the dog simply feels he is not getting enough love or attention as he would like, or has learnt to expect. Thinking that I was recovering from a smaller relapse, not a SEVERE one, my dog thought I would be available sooner - but I wasn't, so he felt BLUE. Off he went, s I've taught him to do, and licked away for a LONG time. Bothering me, of course. My natural reaction was to yell, "Stop it with your BIG TONGUE already!"
Instead, I managed to drag myself up, invite him down lovingly, ask him if he likes the new dog food, etc. (Meanwhile, I was cleverly moving him to a place where his licking would be less audible - a rational choice). After this, he came in and lay beside me, and all that habitual behaviour had ended.
EXERCISE and GAMES always help satisfy a dog. I can't do that so CRAZY TALK AND NONSENSE can be an amusing substitute and stimulate their minds. YELLING AT A DOG (etc.) OFTEN CREATES MORE PROBLEMS DOWN THE ROAD - LIKE AN ADDICTION. Showing care and concern and intimacy and affection, and respect, though, these are the less expensive and are so the most effective tools of satisfying a dog's emotional, psychological and even ENERGY needs.
These tools are known to women of the human species. They use them on their men and their sons. Most men don't shut up until they are convinced they are loved, and are at least SAFE in this way. One way of solving todays RAMPANT JERKWAD PROBLEM is through increased implementation of these love tools. [Get them all NOW for only $49.95!!!]
But they work on anyone, male or female, and mothers know this. Sometimes, it may seem that some women are smothering, when in fact they are trying to deploy these tools on you for your own benefit, and for them to get a break from your incessant devil chanting. Some mothers may not know better - to use OTHER tools. An some mothers are in fact evil, and know that these love tools not only can CONTROL people quite invisibly, they can also freeze cats telepathically and levitate gambling casinoes.
Well, I was thinking about this feeling of not being loved, and responding to it by running off into one's own little world of silly habits, which somehow seem so ALL-IMPORTANT, (because they are mechanisms of placating and DEYING one's own love for the other, who seems to have spurned you). Ad I think of some people who, though they may be abusive, probably esteem me quite highly, and would like nothing more than to be told, by me, that they are appreciated.
Two relatives recently puffed themselves up and each told me that he now RECYCLES - and I'm like WOOP-DE-DOO we'll be giving out frickin medals on Friday, yep! Recycling, according to me, is just something ya do because YOU DO. It's no great revolutionary achievement. Not only should everyone have been doing it for the past 100 years, it's even INSUFFICIENT as an energy(etc.) strategy. But they wanted to be congratulated, cuz Republicans are all about the ego thing - so needy, so pretending not to be, ergo so abusive.
Well, I'm probably the one person around who tells people I appreciate them more than anyone, and, let me tell you, I don't relish it. But I do. I don't how much more I can give of my male pride, when here I am being flushed down a toilet. But they don't have the spatial sense to see that in perspective. Instead, they resort to their OCD stuff, their memory distortion, and their need to confuse love with control. "Please show me you love me by controlling me more, even while you are now virtually homeless." Wow - what a spiral, a sink, a secret to our times).
Well, there is a modicum of truth to their feelings, and I remain somewhat responsible. I remember, once, a relative asking me how she should be dealing with her life, her emotions, her aloneness. I know that tidying your room always helps get you out of a depression, believe it or not. And, I tod her, also, that a good thing to do is to organise you papers - into files and such. Tis can be very helpful. Well, after this, she not only spent a lot of time organising her papers. But these papers also began to include junk mail, which included lots of religious stuff, and sweepstakes stuff, etc. She was storing it all in boxes, it became unhealthy.
Meanwhile, she would exhibit unfathomable behaviour when she would meet me - which I now understand. She wanted VALIDATION. But I, and others, were seeing this simply as crazy pack-rat behaviour, for she was being pack-rat about other things.
Last night, after thinking about this feeling-of-not-being-loved thing, inspired by my dog, and I started to think about her. And maybe this organising of hers HAD come to crazy pack-rat behaviour - and maybe it was mental illness growing - but perhaps it also came from a growing feeling of not being loved enough. Or, rather, of loving so much, and feeling disappointed because the love was being spurned. Whether or not that was true, it deeply saddens me that this was something that was in play - and it probably was.
To think that her need for more expressive love from me was so great, it is a sad thing to consider. But humans are, whilst so strong, ultimately so weak and so broken, aren't they? We seem perpetually flawed, and forever go on gambolling into eternity, somehow trying, impossibly, to get it right.