Miss Stella Looking for a Job
Everyone knows that Miss Stella loves to carry a bottle when she goes for her walks. She actually will hesitate to move on her “release” command to leave the porch if she does not see the bottle with me or have it in her mouth. I am not sure if this is the “working” part of her or just her ‘goof~newf’ part. It could be both. We have tried to find something that we can use to help her feel like she is ‘working’ or has a job of some sort. Often when we come in from being out on errands or at work, she wants to ‘help’ carry our items in from the porch. It does not matter if it is a purse, bag, grocery bag, briefcase, she just seems to want to carry something. We have tried several different objects like a plastic basket but the metal handle seemed to bother her. It may have been the metal or that it moved. Boxes did not seem to work well either mostly because she did not have any real handle to ‘take’.
I finally found a basket that I think may work well enough to get her started with training. It is not too big, has a tall handle, and enough room beneath the handle for her jaw. Miss Stella seems pretty intrigued.
I first put Miss Stella in her ‘Sit’ and worked some on ‘Look’ where she is to make eye contact with me. She is doing well with ‘Look’ but it is still a work in progress. She is also trying to see where I have put her new basket.
When she first sees the basket in my hand, she initially wants to grab it. I want her to ‘Take’ the handle though. I am using the command ‘Take’ when giving her the basket and then ‘Give’ when I want it back. Miss Stella does pretty well with ‘Give’ as she has to give up items that she assumes are hers such as towels and socks. She does not sneak these very often, but when she does, she has to ‘Give’ immediately. She also knows this as her command when we play fetch.
I ask Miss Stella to ‘Take’ her basket and then reward her with a treat when she does. She took it by the handle fairly quickly and did not return to grabbing the base of the basket. I only did this a few times, and then tried to take it one step further. I had her ‘Take’ her basket and then told her to ‘Stay’.
She did! She sat there with her basket and stared at me like I was a complete idiot for being excited. It seemed as if she was thinking that she was doing nothing extraordinary and that I was a little too easily entertained. Maybe she is right, but I am excited. The next step will be to make sure she does not decide to ‘Eat’ the basket! I think it would be amazing if we could get her to carry a basket with items in it so that she really was working and felt she had a job or purpose. Maybe we can get her to carry those socks and towels in her basket!