I wrote a post last summer about Luke learning to put his toys away. In it I stated that Luke was good at generalization. I’m pretty new to training, and I felt silly afterwards when I kept reading that dogs are not good at generalizing. I wondered if I was wrong about Luke. The point of that idea is that if you train your dog to do something in a certain location, he may not repeat that behavior when you change the location or circumstances of training.
Since the week before we moved and we put Luke’s crate away to get ready to go, we haven’t done any real training. I planned to get back to it once we get a bit more settled in our new home and I feel like Luke is totally comfortable and relaxed here.
I now stand by my statement that Luke is good at generalization. After all, if we say that “dogs aren’t good at generalization” we are generalizing ourselves aren’t we? Maybe in this case we shouldn’t always. There has to be exceptions to every rule and I think Luke is often an exception to this rule. Here’s why:
Our beagle Kobi used to be constantly underfoot in our kitchen, and since Luke seemed to want to pick up right where he left off (oddly, most of the time the girls are very good about staying out of the kitchen when I’m cooking), I vowed to train him to stay out of my way when I was working in there. I don’t want to trip over a dog while cooking, and with sharp knives and hot dishes around, it’s for all of our safety. Plus dogs just have a way of lying right in front of the next cabinet you need to get into!
The other night I was preparing supper in our new kitchen and noticed Luke right next to me. I had trained him to go to his bed in our other house, which was right outside of the kitchen. He could still see me but would be out of the way. In the new house, he wouldn’t be able to see me quite as well from the closest bed. So I just raised my arm and gestured kind of vaguely as I said “go lie down”. He took himself and lay down right outside the kitchen – within my sight and close to me, but out of my work area.
He knew exactly where to go. (I quickly praised him and brought him a piece of cucumber. Yup, he loves it).
That inspired me to start training back up just to see if he would perform many of his old tricks in our new home, and he has done very well. These cabinets close a little differently so he has a bit of trouble with closing them but he’s getting there. I put a handful of treats in my pocket when we went outside to play, and I had him spinning, twirling, backing up, and even picking up toys and bringing them to me outdoors! That’s all while I’m also throwing the ball for his sisters.
I’ll say it again, and proudly: “Luke is good at generalizing”. No, he’s not perfect – he is sometimes still distracted and not cooperative. We haven’t decided yet what our next trick will be, or when we’ll get the crate out to start training with that again. I’m working with him to leave our cat Samantha alone so we can feel safe letting her have the run of the house (I don’t think he would hurt her, intentionally, but he can get too rambunctious with her). Frankly, I hadn’t even planned to write a post for this month’s hop, but Luke must have decided he needed to inspire me and make it easy, as well as letting me know he is ready!
On another note: Have you read our review and entered our giveaway for the Solvit Pet Safety Seat? If not, click here to go to that post and enter!
We are joining the Positive Pet Reinforcement hop this week. It begins on the first Monday of every month and runs all week long. The hop is hosted by Cascadian Nomads, Tenacious Little Terrier, and Rubicon Days. Please visit them as well as other blogs through the links below for more positive pet training tips.