Sunday, February 14, 2010
Dog whispering not for the north
Cesar Millan did an episode in NYC in the autumn. Mostly he stays in the warm places, where dog owners hike around in shorts and flip flops.
Here's my challenge; leash train an ambitious puppy when the north wind is blowing, the ice crystals hurting your nose, the bulk and weight of winter wear slowing your reactions and blocking the view of the said dog in training. Now it's not so easy with a little psstchst-tap, aiming for a jumping jelly bean at the end of the leash whom you can't actually see past your hood.
The northern dog is hardy, strong and strong willed (CM doesn't say stubborn), and very well equipped for the climate. Even extreme temperatures and winds don't slow em down. By extreme I mean colder than -30 with windchill giving a -45C brrr. Anything warmer than that is a fine winter day.
He also recommends waiting til they become "calm submissive". For Kamik to become calm submissive may actually take 2-10 minutes. Now my feet may go numb, hers not so much. The only boots to keep my feet warm here are my seal skin kamik, the downer; they can be very slippery on the roads. So sneakers it is, they keep me just as warm as my -35 rated boots.
Options; wait til the wind stops blowing and hope it's a weekend or courageously attempt dog training even though the wind blows over your vocals, the ice crystals causing pain with every breath and stinging ice on your face leaves you exhausted.
1. Don parka, sunglasses, hat, mittens, and scarf. These must be warm and wind proof
2. Dress feet
3. Find leash, camera, training collar and keys
4. Don't trip going down the steps, especially the last one which has victimized me many times.
5. Approach dog.
He says it's all about energy be " calm assertive"..hmm.
1. Wait for dog to settle into submissive attitude- ~ 5 minutes
2. Attach leash; this generates new excitement. we wait.
3. Initiate exercise eg. walk on leash...we're off!
4. Correct with psshscht noise and with precision timing speed tap or pinch dog's neck, shoulder, or ribs..... Mittened hand swinging through the air, unable to see dog beyond hood, puffy shoulders while she artfully dodges my reach, psschst drowned out by the sound of saws, snowmobiles.
5. Bear an attitude of composure, leadership....I'm sweating in my parka, but my face is numb and toes are wooden
6. Distance traveled....25 feet
7. Dog happily sniffing while I shuffle along the shiny, slippery, wind-blown-snow-imitating-ice surface of the roads.
8. Use every distraction to remind dog who is in charge; correction if goofy behaviour starts at the sight of another dog, snowmobile passing, familiar friends truck. This brings us back to item number 4.
9. Repeat training, walk frequently and for lengthy periods...hope she doesn't slip her collar.