Michael Pearce

With some dogs, hard to tell who is training whom

Even at 8 weeks, Cade is smart enough to milk the system for as many treats as possible.
Even at 8 weeks, Cade is smart enough to milk the system for as many treats as possible. The Wichita Eagle

Beginning with a Brittany named Rosey, I've been training dogs for 49 years. Now, it seems the roles are reversed.

As I've blogged recently, about 10 days ago Kathy and I acquired Cade, a black Lab puppy from an avid hunter/hunt test competitor in Minnesota.

Swimming, retrieving, learning to sit, coming to whistles or verbal name, crate training, memory tests, potty on command and beta behavior have come along ahead of schedule.

His house training hasn’t been quite as positive.

Kathy noted Cade's deep love of food and suggested we give him a small treat when he did his business outdoors. I’ve never been one to use food as a reward while training, but it was worth a try, I thought.

So about an hour after the idea I took the then eight-week-old puppy outdoors, set him down and simply said, "Cade, go potty." As he'd been trained, he did.

As soon as he was done I told him to sit, then handed him a small piece of dog biscuit.

An hour later he followed me outdoors, I gave him the command, he did, then immediately sat and looked up at me, obviously waiting for the biscuit that he quickly received. So it went two or three more times that day.

The next day I let him outside, and was following the puppy across the deck when he turned, looked me in the eye and sat. I swear his facial expression was, "OK, today I need one before and one after!" Two months old and he was already into bargaining.

"Nice try," I said to him. "No tinkle, no treat. Get going.” He turned, walked a few yards off the deck, did his stuff and sat for a piece of biscuit.

So, the first thing the next morning we again go out, he goes into the yard and I give him the command to empty his bladder. The pup stopped, went, came to me, sat and got his biscuit.

Cade then went on to sniff around the yard for a couple of minutes before he returned to me, looked me in the eye, peed again and then sat. I had to give him another treat.

Twice more in that 10 minute walk around the yard the puppy peed, sat, and looked up at me like, "OK, dude, a deal is a deal. Pay up."

Such is how it's gone the past few days. Rather than peeing once when we go out, he stops and starts up to three or four times so he can have more treats.

It is also obvious that every time we head towards the house he stops and takes a longer and longer shot at the water bowl. I swear the puppy is grinning as he laps up the water, knowing he'll soon be able to trade the full bladder for a full tummy.

Before this is over, he may be the one wearing the whistle around his neck.

I’m never going to let him near our electronic collar. I’m afraid I’d be wearing it, and I’d have to bribe him with treats to keep his paws off the juice.

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