Tuesday, July 27, 2010

It isn't easy being a baby-sitter, but someone's gotta do it...

The only question is, who is baby-sitting who?

Sometimes my dog trainer needs to bring The Kidlet to class. The Kidlet is a surprisingly well-behaved 8 year old (give or take a year), who, not surprisingly, has great dog sense. As such, while The Kidlet understands that she needs to sit quietly during class (and often does so in the back office), she just loves it when she gets a chance to interact with the dogs. It just so happens that she especially loves Maisy.

The Kidlet won the lottery last week when I opted not to participate in an exercise (restrained recalls- they’re pretty intense for Maisy in general, and she was already a bit stressed that night), which meant that Maisy and I went to visit The Kidlet in the back. The Kidlet was thrilled, of course, and immediately wanted to put Maisy through her paces.

First, she practiced sits and downs. She quickly discovered that Maisy will offer a paw, so she did that with Maisy. Then, The Kidlet decided to give Maisy a little discrimination test: could Maisy offer the correct paw when she reached with one hand instead of the other? What if she used the “wrong” hand? Maisy played along valiantly. After all, The Kidlet doles out treats at a much higher rate than The Momlady.

Then, The Kidlet decided that Maisy might be an agility dog, and wanted to test her ability to go through a play-tunnel. Maisy needed a little coaxing, but pretty soon, we had Maisy running back and forth along the tunnel, going from one end to the other. Again, The Kidlet decided to increase the difficulty, and tried to get Maisy to enter the tunnel at the end she indicated. Maisy did surprisingly well.

Next on the list was jumping. The Kidlet was disappointed that I wouldn’t let her do any height (we had a bar but no standards, and the only props upon which to place it were objects about three times Maisy’s jump height), but even so, she enjoyed cuing Maisy back and forth over the bar laid on the ground.

When I thwarted her attempt to send Maisy from the jump to the tunnel (citing the fact that Maisy is not actually an agility dog), The Kidlet gave up agility for freestyle, and began working on having Maisy go under, between, and around her legs. I’ve put very little effort into such tricks, so The Kidlet had to work pretty hard to get Maisy to do figure-eights around her legs. With some creative treat placement, though, they were successful!

Finally, The Kidlet decided to play some scenting games with Maisy. She put a treat under one of three cups, mixed them up like in a shell game, and had Maisy find the treat. This wasn’t very challenging for her, which is probably good, because at this point, Maisy had been interacting with The Kidlet for the better part of an hour, and was beginning to tire of her antics.

It was nice to see her interacting so well with The Kidlet because Maisy can be a bit iffy with children. Overall, though, she’s getting better and better about overcoming her fears and interacting with those formerly scary things. I still don’t let children I don’t know interact with Maisy, and I certainly wouldn’t let any other child spend that much time playing with her, but it’s nice that we have at least one decently dog-savvy child in our lives- heck, I think Maisy even enjoyed it!


Katie, Meeka and Maizey said...

Kids can be such great experience for our pups! Reminds me of the post i had a while back about the neighborhood kids, jokingly called "mugged by a herd of small children".:)

I love that you have a class that is respectful enough an environment that you can sit out what Maizey needs to. And kudos for you for knowing when that is!

Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

What fun for everybody!!! It's so nice to have respectful children be around our dogs. I know Vito has some reactivity to kids sometimes so it's always good to get him around dog savy kids.

Hey, does Jane offer a comp level obedience class? Vito really needs to get into a class again it's been too long.

Sam said...

Is there any way you can pack this Kidlet up and ship her to me for a few days? It seems we have almost no calm, respectful children here, and it's a shame, because Marge does really well with kids who approach her properly.

Crystal said...

Katie, I have a great class, and a great instructor. We've learned A LOT during the year we've trained there. :)

Laura- I don't think so does, but I just emailed her to find out. I'll let you know what I hear. :)

Sam- Sorry! MY Kidlet. I don't wanna share. ;)

Crystal said...

Laura- I was right, Jane doesn't have any comp obedience stuff yet. She'd like to do it in the future, but just hasn't gotten there yet. :)

Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

drat. thanks for asking!!