Shake…not just a party trick

It’s really great when stuff we’ve been working on with Spencer starts to come together and crystallizes in new and excited ways.

This past week we taught him to give us his paw on command. This is an age-old party trick, and we had ignored it in favor of more practical things until I read that it could be very useful in grooming situations, or the thing we’ve started using it for.

To help him reduce his anxiety levels, we’ve been trying to give him more structured instructions, even in situations where it’s not strictly speaking necessary. The idea is that if the dog knows you’re watching out for him all the time, he doesn’t feel the need to take care of you, so it can help with aggression issues. So he now has to sit before any door that he wants to go through will open (sit is the canine equivalent of “please”).

Anyway, Spencer now comes in from the rain-soaked garden (because let’s face it, it has been raining non-stop for a year) and sits on a towel in the sunroom. I then ask him to give me his paws one at a time, we wipe them, he gets a reward, and then he gets to go on his merry way.

Much more useful than entertaining guests!

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