Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Size Matters

My niece, Erin, brought her 18 month Shih Tzu to our family Christmas Eve celebration. Oscar is about as cute as they come, well socialized with an endearing personality that lights up the faces of everyone who sees him. He works the room with a skill most politicians would envy, but would have difficulty imitating - because Oscar means it. When he places his tiny paws in your lap and looks in your eyes with that adorable grin on his face you know the affection he's showing you is real.

I spent a lot of time observing Oscar as he celebrated with the family. Like any "proud parent", I also spent some time comparing Oscar and Belle - in particular, noting their similarities (despite the discrepancy in size), but also their differences. One of their similarities was their need to rise up on a human for greeting.

From a training perspective, this gave me a much better appreciation of the areas where Belle and I still need a great deal of work. In particular, body control in new places, with new people. To be clear that "sit for greeting" has to last beyond the greeting. What is interesting is Belle understands this better in some places (hockey arenas for example) than others, particularly homes. I've had many more visitors than usual during the holiday season and while the visitors haven't always followed instructions (ignore her and walk away if she isn't sitting quietly), Belle should still not be wiggling around, sitting on feet, or horrors - jumping up on the visitor.

So it's back to the basics for us. For Oscar, weighing in at just under nine pounds, jumping up is simply an endearing invite to pick him up. But at fifty-seven pounds it is too easy for Belle to cause significant problems "rising to the occasion" for each of her encounters with her favorite humans.

1 comment:

carrot said...

Too true! "The Swain" and I realized this when we got "snuggled" by Belle on Christmas Day (and she did great, by the way). He has two small dogs who haven't been formally trained in terms of stuff like sitting, staying, etc. He said he realized how much more that matters when it's 60 pounds leaping on you instead of 10!