Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Parlor tricks

Labs are nothing if not trainable...

Luka knows to sit, stay, wait, speak and shake hands on command. He can also do all those things with just a hand signal. He goes to his crate when we tell him to and will mostly stay there of his own accord. Down, off, leave it and drop it are things we're still working at.


Let's face it though; these tricks are limited in their usefulness. It's nice at dinnertime to be able to send him to his crate so he's at least begging from a few feet away, nice when visitors come so he'll be calm and not underfoot, helpful when I'm vacuuming so he's not able to wrestle the hose out of my hand.

On walks, he knows to sit and wait at intersections before I tell him it's okay to cross with me. He sits and waits to let me go out or come in the door before him. He sits and waits for his dinner. Good manners, I think, are important. Luka and I went to 16+ weeks of obedience school to learn the basics that I've since applied to our daily lives around here so that we can live together fairly nicely.

My husband teaches him parlor tricks.

We remove his collar whenever he goes into his crate for safety reasons. The DH taught him to retrieve the collar from the dining room table when he's let out of the crate for his mid-afternoon walk. He reaches up, mostly without putting his feet on the table, grabs the collar and then carries it to the back door to sit and wait to go out.

Very convenient, right?

Only... he does it all the time now, whenever he wants attention. For example, this morning I was up late for work, had just stepped out of the shower and was sitting on the bed in a towel... and there he was in the bedroom doorway with that damn collar in his mouth, wagging his tail at me!

Pick up the phone and there he is with it, suddenly wanting to go out. Have your hands in a sink full of dishes? Luka's rattling his collar at your feet.

He also likes to prance around with it and not give it up when you're finally dressed enough to take him out. A great game when you're already late for work, don'tcha know?


Silly dog!

(Silly DH for teaching him that trick.)


Lynne said...

Luka has such an eager face in that picture. It looks like he took a bite out of his new bandana!

KGMom said...

Awww---Luka is just trying to be helpful. No?
He continues to be a cute teenager!

Susan Gets Native said...

I think Hooper would have fun with that little trick.
"Walk? Can we walk? Walk now? Walk? Walk?"

Luka always looks so darn shiny! What a pretty pup.

Jayne said...

LOL... he's training you all well, don't you think? ;c)

Erin said...

If Henry hears the word walk he starts running around in circles barking until you take him out for a walk. Very inconvenient when you say it by accident... Love that picture, Luka looks so hopeful!

NCmountainwoman said...

He is so adorable. I think some dogs have a really great sense of humor and Luka must be one of them. He knows how to turn a trick around. Better be careful what you teach that guy.

KatDoc said...

Cute puppy! And, I think your "sit, stay, wait, drop it, leave it, down, and off" commands aren't limited; I find them very useful in my day-to-day life with my dogs. Good manners are essential, in my book.

"Shake hands, speak, play dead, etc" are parlor tricks, but it's nice to have a few of those up your sleeve to entertain friends and family. BUT, teaching a dog to take something off the table can backfire on you, as you have learned. Same day, Luka may chew up that collar instead of bringing it to you, or, even worse, swallow all or part of it. Watch him - He's a Lab. He is genetically programmed to eat anything smaller than his head. (It looks like he is already working on his bandana.)

How fun to have a puppy around. I love my well-trained senior dogs, but I miss the joy and spontaneity of a puppy.

~KatDoc, who is gettin' puppeh feva again

Rabbits' Guy said...

Hee Hee .. we once "trained" a puppy to scratch at the door when he wanted to go out. Bye Bye door!

amarkonmywall said...

This post makes me smile right out loud! He is so cute. At the zoo we train to natural behaviors and reinforce them in a way that is beneficial to the animal- mostly as a means of getting them to display for "visual checkups."

Clearly, Luka has perfected his retrieving skills in a way that is beneficial to him!

And thank you for the splendid chili post! I like Cincinnati style chili, too.

Mary said...

How can you resist, Laura? He's a well trained dog. And beautiful. And sweet. Might be clumsy, but makes you laugh. I love Luka. I'd love to sit on the floor and hug him.

..helpful when I'm vacuuming so he's not able to wrestle the hose out of my hand..." THAT sounds familiar :o)

Dave said...

I agree with Jayne, Who's got who trained? LOL!

Cindie U. said...

I realize you're in NJ, but maybe some of your readers can recommend a good training program in SW Ohio? My 6 month old chocolate lab is reading for some coursework!

KatDoc said...

Cindie U:

I'm in SW Ohio; if you e-mail me with a closer location, maybe I can help you.

KatDocsWorld1 AT verizon DOT net

RuthieJ said...

What a cute picture of Luka! Good for you Laura for going through all that training with Luka (I wish I had done that with Sophie)

Margaret Cloud said...

I had a lab and german shepard mix, he was a loyal pal, he looked both breeds but his legs was the color of the shepard only, I miss him, he was the best dog I ever had, Luka looks so cute with the collar in the mouth.

MrsWren said...

Laura, Does your lab and rabbit cohabitate? I grew up raising rabbits in 4-h, but they stayed outside. Now that I have a jack russell and a rat terrier, I think rabbits are out for awhile, although I am planning for chickens again next summer.