DAVE: Training Bailey

You know those dog walkers— the ones who are actually walked by their dogs? You see them getting yanked around Hafer or Mitch Park or around your neighborhood. That was me—but no more. Yes, I still have my dog, but now she’s trained.

BaileyThe old adage says you can’t teach a dog a new trick. My dog, Bailey, an Australian Shepherd (mostly, she’s a rescue dog), knows the standards—sit, lay down and rollover tricks my kids taught her—but as of lately, I’ve been on a mission to teach her more.  

Teaching her to walk obediently beside me—on or off the leash—was pretty easy. I used the clicker method. Essentially, I give a command, then I mark the desired behavior with a click, a treat and positive reinforcement. This really improves the quality of our relationship—not to mention my trip around Hafer. What else is this dog capable of?

Time to take this to the next level. Here are some new activities I’m teaching her—admittedly with mixed results.

  • Picking up the free newspapers that get thrown on our driveway. She’s grown tired of this, as have I.
  • Pulling the cars into the garage late at night. She doesn’t mind doing it, except in the rain.
  • Getting her own 30 lb. bag of dog food. She doesn’t yet understand monetary transactions.
  • Going to the PikePass office every few years. She dislikes this as much as I do. This is a work in progress.
  • Doing annual reviews for my employees. This has worked out well because she’s a lot tougher than I am.
  • Cleaning out the fridge. One of her favorites. Go figure.
  • Flossing my teeth. Not bad for having no thumbs, but we are still working on not licking my face.
  • Attend my granddaughter’s school functions in place of me. We concur, five minutes of Aubrey on stage packed into a 90 minute format. Challenging.
  • Cleaning the cat box. It’s not gonna happen.

Its a win-win. She’s figured out how easy it is to get me to give her treats and my quality of life has improved.

She even wrote this column for me. 

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