Saturday, January 13, 2007

How to Train a Boston Terrier

The horse trainers have a saying. The saying is, "accept any change for the better."

It's because in nature people don't sit on horses and tell them to turn left and right and back up and canter and walk and stand quietly by the gate and go get in that trailer, we're going to the vet. Horses don't naturally see the point of these types of activities, and why should they, it doesn't stop cougars from eating them.

It's like if a horse were training you and said, "come on, let's run as fast as we can all day long, and only stop to eat grass or if we see a pretty mare." You would say, why should I, I don't even like grass. What's in it for me besides a lot of blisters?

And if you just go and sit on a wild horse and tell it to turn left and right and canter when no one has ever done that, you'll probably wish you hadn't. You can try this yourself if you don't believe me.

So you wouldn't start teaching a horse to canter by getting on it and saying "canter." You would start by teaching the horse to walk and then trot and then canter. And you wouldn't start teaching a horse to walk by getting on it and saying "walk." You would start by showing a horse a picture of a saddle in a book from 30 feet away. And if the horse didn't get scared and run away, then that would be a good start. That would be a change for the better.

And then maybe the next time you could show the picture from 20 feet away. And then maybe at some point you could show the horse a real saddle. And then maybe at some point you could let the horse touch the saddle. And so on like that, accepting all the little changes for the better, and not expecting big changes all at once, until all of a sudden, what do you know, you got where you wanted to go without upsetting anyone.

It turns out you can go a long way, just by taking one step in the right direction at a time.

Anyway the whole point of this is I am trying to train Wendell the pest to stop running around me in circles barking like an idiot every time he sees me. At first what I did was run up to him and butt him in the ribs and yell, "stop running around me in circles and barking like an idiot, you idiot!"

Clipper also tried the same method, as you can see in this photo.

That did not work. Now I am using horse training methods. I will let you know what happens.


Anonymous said...

It appears you are contemplating what exotic animals trainers call "approximations". That is good and there are additional methods used in training wolves whales porpoises and spouses that you may wish to explore with Wendell. One caution: Amy Sutherland says that some animals understand training so well they learn to apply it to their trainer. Since Wendell is a Boston Terrier, not a Border Collie, You probably do not have to worry too much about him learning your training strategies.

Anonymous said...

Dear Baby Bella, congratulations on being goat of the year and attempting to train Wendall. Being alpha is a hard job, but someone has to do it.
Looking forward to the goat calendar update for 2007.
a goat friend