Teaching an “old” dog new tricks

Teaching an “old” dog new tricks

I have been taking my Labrador Willow to Nij and Jo’s training classes since she was a puppy, and when she passed 2 years old and was fairly well behaved I considered her ‘trained’. I kept going to the classes for enjoyment and to meet all the lovely people there, but I wasn’t really expecting her to advance further.  So it was a surprise when around her third birthday there was a sense of things clicking into place for her and her performance suddenly improved.

Willow has grown up alongside my two grandchildren, and a long-running battle has been trying to teach her that she is not allowed to eat children’s food, even when it is waved under her nose or dropped at her feet. This met with limited success.  Well, she is a Labrador!  However, at recent classes, we have done an exercise involving two treats in which the dog is not allowed the treat they first notice but gets the other one. I discovered to my delight and astonishment that Willow, while still taking up position under the table at meal times, has stopped diving on any bits of food that might drop to the floor.  I can now remove it, and give her a dog treat as a reward.

I’m daring to hope that in time I will be able to take her to Brocks Hill after a sunny weekend without losing her to the call of the overflowing bins!

Sara Shaw

June 2018