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Category Archives: Training

Pay attention or pay the lady at the license bureau

So you bring that new puppy home and housebreaking is going as expected. You can get the pup outside to do her business most of the time with only the occasional carpet christening.

But now it’s been nearly a week of successful toilet training and the pup has just walked over to you, made laser direct eye contact and squatted. Right there! In front of you!

What do you do?

You grab the classified ad section of your own local version of the Dayton Daily and roll it up tightly, right?

Then you smack yourself soundly on the head for not paying attention to the puppy.

It’s your own dumb fault.

When I say “you”, I really mean me, of course. Well, all of us collectively. Anyone who has raised a puppy or adopted an adult dog from a shelter.

I was reminded about this Paying Attention thing this week, when the Husband came downstairs and handed me this little nightmare.

Read the rest of this entry

Ninja Strike

We’re ready for ya!

Alrighty, I sing-song. Who’s ready for their breakfast? Are my dogs Hungry?

A powerful word, Hungry. It’s in the same attention getting genre as Getcher Food Bowl, Cookie, and that sound kibble makes when it hits the metal pan.

I come up the basement steps with three food bowls in delicate balance.

Dogs, I say. Assume your usual positions and we’ll …


Wha? I say. The bowls tilt, spilling a few kibble, as Holly bangs her head into the stack in my hands.

Holly! I say. Then add her middle name because she’s in trouble. Don’t! 

Didn’t see me coming, didya? says Holly.

Well, I say. That’s a given. What the heck are you thinking, you little stinker?

Not a stinker, says Holly. I’m a ninja. I am the Night. The cat said you wouldn’t know what a ninja was and it’d be so easy to get ya. He was right, huh?  He told if I jumped you with all the food bowls, I could score Jager’s, too.

Grrr, says Jager.

Hey, here’s an idea, I say, scooping the escapee nuggets back into a bowl. You want to play some games today? Yeah? Ok, here, I’ll give you half your breakfast …

Wait, says Holly. I just remembered I don’t like games. Just put the bowl down, Food Lady. I won’t ninja strike you again. Promise.

No, let me finish, Holly, I say. Let’s give you half now and the other half you’ll win back when we play.

I’m in!, says Micron.

Not talking to you, big guy, I say. This is just for the puppy. I’m gonna take her outside to play some “games.” I wink at him so he gets the secret code. 

Set down the coffee mug before you go out, says Micron. Caffeine and all. Your face is doing that weird tic thing again.

Game On

Bag o’goodness nuggets

So what’s a girl to do with a half bag of puppy kibble?

Oh, just what I should have done before the little missy jumped on me in her valiant, yet unsuccessful, attempt to improve the dull breakfast routine.

I appreciate a food motivated puppy. I really do. Because I truly don’t have the skill set to train a dog otherwise. I need the help of these power nuggets.

And now that our Miss Holly has been around for the last twelve weeks discovering the wonders of dog’s green earth, she’s certainly mature enough in mind and body to understand the basics. Plus some.

Gimme something hard, challenges Holly. Enuf with the Sits already.

Can I get up now? How about now?
Now? No? Ok, how about now?

Sure, ok, I say. You’re absolutely right. Here’s a tough one. Holly, Down!

Whatever, she yawns. There. Happy? She sits back up.

No, Holly, I say. Down! Then don’t move until you’re Released.

I have no idea what that even means, says Holly.

Actually, I say. Yeah, you do. Self-control, my beauty. You can do this. Because here’s the best part. Just stay there and think happy thoughts for a sec. I’m just going to step over here while you imagine the next yummy kibble.

And Holly, I say. Here!

Heck yeah! I know this one too! Crunchy kibble, tiny kibble, yummy kibble, she sings. I’m coming for ya!

There’s a crunchy with my name on it!

Well, I gotta say this is going smoothly so far. We’ve used positive reinforcement to work on those basic commands – Sit, Down, Here, Shake, Side, Heel – and now ready to introduce a real challenge for a food motivated puppy.

A kibble is going all temptation style
on that stick.

In the spirit of Nothing for Free, we want Holly to understand that she cannot just grab whatever food her tingling puppy senses tell her is available.

This is beyond the pleasantry of good manners, of course. All puppies learning the ways of a career as an assistance dog must learn to focus. Rewarding with kibble is a great start.

But there’s more to it than that. And we’re about to bump it up a notch.

Um, Food Lady, says Holly. Can I do that Down thing again?

You can do this, too, I say. It’s not as hard as you think it is. You can look at the treat if you want. But then I want you to look at me. 

After I eat it? she asks.

You know the answer to that, I say. I’m putting the treat here and all you have to do is just pretend it’s not there.  This one isn’t yours. But I have another one that is. Ooh, check it out. Blink! It’s now invisible to you, right? 

As one would expect, we make it through a few No’s and Don’ts just to enforce that not only do I really mean it, but I’m also paying attention. Our girl is nearly clever enough to try to oldest trick in the book of looketh over there just to distract me.

But hey, I’m onto her tricks.

Well, mostly. Except for the ninja thing, I guess. Those guys are pretty stealthy.

But could be worse, I guess.

Could be pirates instead.

I wanna be a helper dog when I grow up.
Or the Dread Pirate Roberts. 

Little Red Wagon

Let’s have Micron pull me!

Hey, wait a minute here, says Holly. Something’s not right, Food Lady.

What? No. No, everything’s fine, I say, lowering the camera. What do you mean, Holly?

So, says Holly. Remember the time Bodine the Benevolent Ruler of Sword House rolled on his back for you? And he wanted a belly rub? And then you said a really bad word and yelled about needing bondage?  

Bandage, I say. Yeah, that or possibly an EMT. Sure, the cat went all bear trap on me when I touched that gourd he calls a belly. Of course I remember that. It was creepy how he never stopped purring.

I shudder with the memory. But what does Bodine have to do with this?

I think, says Holly. I’m being set up here. 

C’mon, it’s not a trap, General Ackbar, I say. Just a wading pool filled with old tennis balls. 

Uh huh. Tennis balls that I can’t play with? asks Holly.

You hoomans are kinda
weird sometimes.

Right, I say. You just walk right through them without picking one up. 

That’s what I’m talking about! yells Holly.  How do I possibly manage that amazing feat anyhow, Ringling? You might have missed the memo about me being only eleven weeks old and all. 

And almost twelve weeks old, I say. Time to be introduced to the world of Self-control. 

Self-control? Holly waves a paw in dismissal. I have no idea what that even means.

A fact that has not gone unnoticed, I say. Whad’ya say we give it a try today, shall we?

Puppy Raiser mixer

And so begins Holly’s first training event with other Canine Companions for Independence puppies and their volunteer puppy raisers.

An awkward start to things as Holly tries to wrap her head around the dozen or cool hunnerd or so puppies in attendance.  The total number depends on who you ask and how well they can count. Then she found herself processing that she’s not good at math while faced with the various challenges presented throughout in the training stations.

But tackle it all, she did.

Holly handled not just a Sit in a weird, wobbly thing, but impressed us with an eye contact bonus.

As did her brother, Hoagy. Well done, big guy. Extra points awarded for being stinking adorable in the process.

Holly and Hoagy were hopeful for a rasslin’ match in the garden cart. And yet somehow were agreeable to try the self-control thing after some encouragement.

We got us a ladder on the ground to walk through. An A-frame for a birds-eye view of the goings-on about the yard. And the odd novel surface to rest the nether regions upon.

I like waffles.

You know, by the end of the afternoon things were going so well with this little pup that, well ..

I just gotta wonder what twelve weeks old is going to bring us.

Does the sun rise and set on me, you ask?
Well ….

Roller Coaster

It wasn’t to the level of a double dog dare, as no canines were involved in this challenge of machismo vs. tough, yet still delicately feminine character.

The Vortex at King’s Island
Yeah, no problem.

The brother-in-law and I were standing before the Vortex on the first family trip to King’s Island since the ride debuted. Vortex, which is Latin for You Don’t Need Your Spleen Anyway, boasted a claim as the tallest roller coaster in the world with the highest drop.

Not so bad, right? I mean, once you tackle that feat with a hearty scream, you’ll find yourself back in manageable territory of the usual twists and turns expected of a roller coaster.

Oh, but not so for the Vortex. No, this marvel of engineering psychopathy also was also the first thrill ride of its ilk to offer up six inversions.

Inversions?, you ask.

Inversions, I repeat. Upside down, ya’ll. A full loop. Six brain rattling times. 

I believe the max speed of this ride is somewhere around highway speeds of fifty five miles per hour. Vomiting is not an option since even your overpriced amusement park lunch has no idea of which way is out after the second loop.

So here we stand, the BIL and I, watching otherwise normal folk screaming in a tone that could be interpreted as either a wonderful thrill or a curse to their mothers for ever looking at their dad that way, depending on the observer’s point of view*. Neither one of us has the guts to back off now, so off we go to stand in line with the other adrenaline seekers.

The ride lasts a mere two minutes in normal time and about a full life cycle in we’re-all-gonna-die time. It was all up-up-up-up to get to that highest drop thing and then the world as we know it goes upside down. Six times. Real fast.

Afterwards as I step out of the car, the ride attendant reaches out to grab my arm as my knees betray me. The BIL is but a flash in my peripheral vision as he hot steps it to the men’s room.

Wow, what a ride.

So it’s not surprising when a roller coaster is used as a metaphor for life, now is it?  The thrill of anticipation of what is around the next bend, as well as the ups and downs that stress us out to be replaced by pure happiness and relief. And always, the hope that the next drop won’t be as bad as the last one.

As it is with volunteer puppy raising.

Euka is now at the regional training center for Canine Companions for Independence to begin her Advanced Training in the ways of an assistance dog.  We gave her a kiss and hug good-bye on Friday. Asked her to do her best to make us proud. To keep safe the love we gave her over these last months because she’ll want to share it later.

And as our roller coaster car slows to return to the station, we’re reminded of the ride we’ve been on with Miss Euka.

Eighteen months have passed, can you believe it, and we’ve shared over one hundred stories over that time here at Raising a Super Dog.

Let’s remember the journey …

Getting settled in Ohio

In A California Blonde in Ohio we welcome home the delicate flower that is Euka puppy.

Micron: Ow-ow-ow! Holy dog! Really? Ow!
Euka II:  Rawr! nom nom nom

And it begins.

The Ohio E’s have a play session after arriving from California in Furry Blurries.

Euka meets our family in Changes in Latitude, including an obligatory introduction to Bodine, the benevolent overlord of Sword House.

And Micron’s puppy lovin’ patience is put to the test in Adaptation.


Euka explores Work/Life balance while training to be an assistance dog. With the Ohio’s E’s, she finds Time to Ramp it Up with Nothing to Fear.

A group training and socialization event is recapped in Well, Hello Deer.

With Micron as her mentor, we introduced the Speak command to Euka, giving it one heck of a try in Silence is Yellow.

A little R&R

What do you get when you put three dogs plus three hoomans in one car for a twelve hour trip? A test of wills — and patience, that’s what. But hey, we survived to tell the stories. The dramatic tales of our Odyssean-style  trip to the southern Outer Banks is shared at Save Yourselves and Attack of the Ten Foot Sea Spider.

Euka does her diva thing in Base Tan.  And something fish is happening at Floundering in the Rain.

Celebrating holidays

Seems each holiday inspires another photo shoot that doesn’t quite match the vision I had in my head. Four Point Mutt was the first of these valiant attempts.

Euka channels her inner polar bear in blizzard-like conditions.

Later, Miss Euka offers an open invitation to be her Valentine.

And we get a long anticipated visit by the Euka Bunny and her goldengoober sidekick.

We’ll give you a fer instance of one of those hairpin curves on this roller coaster ride that we didn’t see coming at Then This (ugh) Happened.

Meeting famous folk

We were thrilled to meet Temple Grandin during her visit to Cincinnati, Ohio. Euka got a leisurely belly rub while I learned about Temple’s view of dog harnesses.

Euka was at my side, then at The Bloggess’s, when we met one of my favorite authors, Jenny Lawson.

Our little diva had a chance at fleeting fame at Working Like a …well, not really

Wow, what a ride!

Thanks so much for being with us on our journey with Euka over these months. Dunno about you, but I’m struggling to find myself prepared to see this ride pull into the station.

But you know what?  Euka’s ready.  She’s getting in line for the next adventurous set of twists and turns. What’s next?, you ask. Well, that’s the exciting part. Nobody knows yet where this ride will lead her to and so we, as mere spectators now, can’t wait to find out.

These links I’ve offered up are but a few. Hey, I wasn’t kidding when I said we have a bunch of stories here on the dog blog. Browse at your pleasure. To make it a bit easier to filter to the Euka goodness, click her name in the Word Cloud in the right hand panel. And just scroll along, page by puppy page.

A time capsule of adventures.

Did you have a favorite story I missed linking here? Drop a note in the comments to share your memory.

*Speaking of point of view, here’s a YouTube video of the two minute ride from the front car of the Vortex.

7 tips on using a Gentle Leader

What a big sweetie, she said, giving the mighty Micron a gentle scritching on the top of his noggin.

I’d like to pet that one, too, continues Micron’s new admirer. But you’ve got that muzzle on her, so I won’t.

Oh my.

Food Lady! Make him share his ball!

We do get the comments on the head halter, that handy training tool. And honestly, I don’t mind fielding the questions. It’s much better to have an educational moment than the sly skunk eye we get from those who aren’t familiar. I suspect the muzzle comment is a common theme among volunteer puppy raisers for Canine Companions for Independence.

When faced with the query of why is she wearing a muzzle, we find it easy nuff to give a little shrug and say oh, no that’s a Gentle Leader. A head collar, actually designed a lot like a horse halter. See, the leash is connected under here.

And sometimes that’ll do it. They nod in understanding, which makes me wonder if we’re talking to horse people and they totally get it.

Maybe it’s city folk that ask for more on the philosophy behind the Gentle Leader. But no prob. We got this, too.

Yaxley demonstrates the comfort level
of the Gentle Leader.

Well, we say. Think about it this way. The head halter give us the ability to redirect the pup’s attention if she gets distracted by something. Later on, when the dog is teamed with a person with a disability, it’ll be easier to control a seven pound head than a sixty pound dog.

Lookit, she can still take a treat [crunch crunch] or get a drink of water. The halter doesn’t hold her mouth closed. 

And for these dog lovers, we’ve now got it covered. Checking off good enough so we can all move onto our next thoughts. Things like how lovely Euka is and that’s it’s just not fair to all the other dogs out there since she took up all the gorgeous.

But then you get the next level of thinkers.

We kindly call these folk engineers.

How? they ask. Why?

Um, I will say. Oh hey, we’ve got bookmarks with Euka on them. Just a sec. I’ll getcha one from her cape pocket. 

How indeed. Why do these things work so well, anyway? Hardly anecdotal evidence, we have a proven track record of pups that walk better on lead while wearing a head halter. As well as seeing the Gentle Leader provide a calming influence on an excitable puppy.

It’s been supposed that the halter affects certain pressure points on the dog, similar to how the mom would correct her pup.

Have you seen this interaction? A dog gives a gentle, yet dominant, correction by wrapping a mouth about the top of another dog’s snooter. Not a big deal kinda thing. Like a simmer down there, little missy. Or a similar behavior when the mother dog will grab her pup by the back of the neck.

Is there a spit of truth to this, do you think? I dunno myself. I only live with dogs, it’s not like I talk to them about this stuff.

As if.

We mostly talk about when’s dinner and why are all the tennis balls under the sofa where nobody can reach them and why the heck is the cat allowed on the kitchen counter.

He’s not.

Hey, but I can offer you this. Through trial, error and four puppies I’ve been hit in the head with certain knowledge about how to work with this Gentle Leader training tool.

Suggestions for success with Gentle Leader training:

  1. Follow the directions for the correct fitting. Too loose or too tight – whether the nose loop or neck strap – will cause you a handful of probs. Do this first. Then check the instructions again. It’s that important.
  2. Start the pup young. Eight weeks old, if you can. Just a few minutes at first, then work into longer periods.
  3. Gentle Leader Time is Happy Time. Introduce at a relaxed time of day. Say, like just for a few minutes while watching the tube in the evening. Or slip the thing on and feed a meal. Good things happen when the GL shows up. Euka recognizes hers and know it means Adventure Awaits.
  4. The pup will paw at it. They all do. They will tell you that’s what their dew claws were made for, to hook into the nose strap and tug. Just don’t remove it while the pup is fussing. The puppy brains will match this behavior to this is how to get their way, right?
  5. On a similar topic, the pup may turn to that kind stranger in hopes they might remove the nose loop. Physical attempts by the pup may even stray to the unmentionable regions of said stranger as the pup sees an opportunity for leverage. This will happen. And it will embarrass you in ways yet unknown to you at this point in life. I say to you now – expect it. Anticipate and you may be able to head off the obligatory and strangled apology. I’ve taken this one for the team. You’re welcome.
  6. You’ll come across folk who are vehemently opposed to the use of a head halter. They are different than the muzzle people. They will recount some vague tale of something they heard about that happened to a friend of a second cousin to their neighbor’s college roommate. Merely smile politely and go on about your business with confidence. The GL, when fit and used properly, is a remarkable training tool. And safe, of course. Any training tool can be misused when in the hands of those who haven’t been bothered to learn how to use it.
  7. Do #1 again. Really. Puppies grow, of course.

Do you have a success story with using the Gentle Leader with your beloved four legger? A cautionary tale that trumps the maybe-the-release-button-is-in-this-hooman’s-crotch story?

Please share.

Especially if you’ve been more embarrassed than me.

Go for ride? I call shotgun!
Check out that hot pink GL on our girl.


The photos at top and bottom are from this weekend’s adventures. 
Top image is our shopping trip for Mother’s Day flowers at Knollwood Garden Center. We paused for a photo op with a fountain that is now on my OMG I Gotta Have This list, but sadly falls short of the Easily Affordable criteria with its suggested retail price of Higher Than a Cat’s Back.

The bottom image with the fancy pants car was taken at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum. Euka wanted to stand on the running board with a haughty look on her face. Your Toyota, she says to me, is so … you. This is how I should be traveling about, you know. We compromised with a pretty sit on the floor and a wan smile.

It’s just dog nature

Holy mother of dog. Please tell me
that’s not what you’re wearing to
the dinner,
says Micron. Don’t make
me call your mom.

Are we doing anything Saturday night? I glance up to see The Husband holding his iPhone to his chest.

I dunno, I say, Just a sec. I fire up my Droid for a quick look at the social calendar.

Nope, looks clear, I say. That task completed, I go back to my laptop and refocus on pinning vintage dog photos on Pinterest (Dogs of Yore board).

Huh. Well, this will be interesting, he says.

Whazzat? I look up in alarm. Did I just agree to something? Darn it, Pinterest.

Looks like the boss can’t attend a dinner to accept an award on behalf of the business, says The Husband. So he asked us to go in his place.

It’s a semi-formal dinner, he continues. For the 445th Airlift Wing of the Air Force. I guess we won a community partner award. Yeah so apparently this dinner is a pretty big deal and we’ll be seated at the front table. Supposed to be a senator there and …

Oh, do stop, I say. You had me a semi-formal.

Lookit, I’m not a fancy girl.

Never a slave to fashion, instead I’m the chick who walks into a one o’clock meeting at work with a poppy seed between two front teeth and a diet Coke stain on my blouse. Honestly, it doesn’t even occur to me to take a quick look in a mirror until after I start pontificating budgets with my colleagues.

So now I’m expected to eat food in front of important and powerful people. Ok, I think, I can do this thing. And then a brief moment of panic as I realize that all of my food has to make it to my mouth. No retrieving mixed veggies from the cleavage whilst in the presence of these fine folk.

That’s right, people. The dog has
more fashion sense than I do.

Wait, lemme think – when was the last time I even wore a dress?

Right, the Favorite Kid’s college graduation. In 2012. And before that?

I think it was his high school graduation.

True story.

So I suppose my style could be described as comfortable. And by comfortable, I mean clothes that don’t hurt when I sit down. I’m totally ok with jeans and dirt on the heels of my boots. You can take the girl away from the farm, but you can’t take the farm gear away from … well, you know it goes.  This chick likes her denim.

Ugh. So nothing to do about this fancy affair but fake being sick. No, I mean buy a dress, of course. A nice dress, too. Which requires the embellishments of pantyhose, tortuous shoes and that modern version of the corset – Spanx. This free dinner is getting rather expensive. I force myself to not think about pajamas and pizza and the season premiere of Game of Thrones.

At the department store, The Husband serves as moral support as I select yet another kind of support in the manner of feminine shapewear.

That looks uncomfortable, says he, wincing a little.

Yeppers, I say. Being arm candy comes at a steep price.

But later, as I get ready for the evening, a pleasant surprise. I find the chastigious* body armor isn’t that bad. I can breathe. I can sit. I can do both at the same time. This goes against everything I’ve heard about Spanx wear.

I do a sanity check with some friends.

Oh my. Such stories of the relocation of vital organs, a singular ability to exhale without the pleasure of inhaling, fits of claustrophobia and dire warnings to plan well ahead for any bathroom breaks. I’m to heed the first inkling of a tinkling. Or else.

It becomes obvious I’m doing this all wrong. You see, being such a weenie about pain, I chose the Medium torture level of this retro-medieval product when I’m clearly in need of Extreme. It would seem I have a case of  Spanxiety.

I’ll just pause here until the groans subside. Oh hey, I think I’ll grab some cheesecake. Be right back.

Yeah so anyway.

The harder I try to be at my best, the clumsier I get. I do so hate that, too.  It’s oh so easy to allow a increased sense of self-consciousness to feel like the spotlight is on my every misstep.

But I suppose that’s just human nature, isn’t it?

It’s just dog nature

We should take a cue from our canine friends. Dogs don’t know when they’re put on the spot. No test anxiety gripping the neurons in those dog noggins to skew results. And they couldn’t care less about their physical appearance. Proof?  How many times have you removed an unsightly eye booger from your dog, then leaned back and said, there ya go. Gotcha all prettified again, Euka. And they look at you with an expression that says Cookie?

Anyway, you know what I mean.

Last week, along with fellow volunteer puppy raisers for Canine Companions for Independence, we had the chance to put our young charges through some training challenges.

The professional trainers would instruct and observe as we performed the tasks before us. So how did our pups handle this high level scrutiny?

Like they’re at any other training session with us, that’s how. The pups simply want to know what will get a Good Dog from their handler. And what doesn’t.

Euka and her littermate, Everett, were all over this thing, taking on each training station as if they were ready to step right into the Advanced Training program.

C’mon, people. Try to give me something hard to do, says Euka, ignoring the dog cookie on the carpet.

As Euka’s puppy raiser, I didn’t worry much about the pool noodle touching the noggin. Our little honey badger isn’t bothered by too much of this kind of thing.

Yeah, mostly I worried that she’d try to grab and eat it.

Everett one upped his sister with wearing no less than two pool noodles. While in a Down.

And remote control cars buzzing about? No sweat off my nose pad, says Euka.

Y’all should know the little guy on the right did a stellar job as well.

Novel surfaces can be a problem for some pups. Sidewalk grates, gravel and non-carpeted areas might encourage a pup to attempt a side step to keep their tender toes on familiar territory.

Which helps to explain the concept behind this next station. Colorful plastic balls in a wading pool come close to the top of the Novel Object list.

Everett accepts this experience with nary a negative thought. He shows off this casual attitude with another Down.

Well done, our young pups.

Oh, but not so young anymore, are they? Eighteen months old now, our extraordinary E litter. What do you think – are they ready? We have only a few weeks left with these amazing creatures.

Almost time for the matriculation ceremony, a formal affair scheduled for May 16, which is included with the Graduation celebration of new assistance dog teams.

Make no mistake, folks. This is big deal stuff now.

I might even wear a dress.

*Chastigious. An adjective meaning something to do with chastity. As in “when wearing Spanx, all business is closed until further notice”.  And I made up the word, so there’s that.

Silence is yellow

Mums the word, says Euka.

Speak!, I say to Micron.

Boof! says Micron. Bawoof!

Good dog, Mikey, I say. Well done, big guy. I turn to Jager, Speak!

Yap, says Jager. Yap yap yap yap yap yap …

Alrighty, that’ll do, I say. Now Quiet. Please.

Yap, says Jager.

Euka, I say. Speak!

Euka gathers her color coded index cards, clears her throat and makes eye contact with her audience.

Good morning, says Euka. I want to thank you all for being here …

Yeah, just pulling your leggings there, sister. Truth be told, Euka’s response to the Speak command is the same as the Quiet command. She just looks at me with those root beer brown eyes and waits for me to start using English again.

And here we are. Got us an eighteen month old polar bear pup who has thwarted all attempts to teach her the Speak command. Euka hasn’t been a very vocal dog, bark-wise. Oh sure, she hasn’t lost that adorable squeak when she yawns. Been doing that squee-worthy performance since we met her at eight weeks old.

And sometimes when a play session with Jager escalates into a fracas of sorts, we might overhear an excited bark or two. But that’s it. None of the other vocal misbehaviors we found so challenging in various other pups. Euka’s offered up nothing like crate barking, vigilant alerts to weird noises or whatnot.

How do you teach the Speak command, ask a colleague in the office.

This after another masterful Speak demo by the mighty Micron. More on this phenomena at our earlier post, Hokey Pokey, or heck, even right here. Micron will again show you his expert level of Speak.

But how to teach a dog to do this?

Oh, there are different methods one could try depending on the dog. For a serial barker, say like Jager, you would mark the behavior with the word Speak. Make the vocalization a positive thing. And partner it up with the Quiet command. And by keeping consistent with these two markers, all happy stuff and correction-free, eventually you both will have a handle on controlled vocalization.

But what about a quiet little girl like Miss Euka? Well, my go-to has always been the simple task of frustrating the snot out of the pup until he or she makes a noise. I show a high value treat and wave it all around the pup’s snooter with an oh, you almost got it, keep trying. Speak, puppy, speak.  And so on until a moan, squeak or yip escapes from the puppy who is slowly losing their mind.

And then, they get not just a treat as a reward, but an overflowing handful. Is it my birthday?, they wonder. National Puppy Day or something?

And we do it again. And again. Make a sound, then treats. I’m excited, the puppy is wound up and eventually *click*, they get it.

Puppy Brain Sequence

1. Food Lady says Speak
2. I make a sound
3. I get an awesome treat
4. Food Lady is happy
5. I want more awesome treats

If this doesn’t work, we move onto the one thing that seems overtly obvious, yet somehow never really works. But with no success at hand to date, here we go anyway.

I line up the dogs in order of age. Jager, Micron, then Euka.  Not on purpose, you know. That implies I have some degree of control when I reach for the treat jar on the counter. I don’t.

And we begin.

Micron …Speak! [boof!] Good dog! [crunching cookie sound]  Jager…Speak! [yap yap yap]Good dog! [crunching cookie sound] Lookit Euka! This is Speak. The boys are getting cookies and you’re not. Doesn’t that annoy you? Yeah? Well, Euka Speak!


Ha ha, just kidding. Even the crickets are barking at this point. The boys haven’t stopped flapping their gums since we started. And they’re still getting cookie goodness for Speak! while Euka is on standby suffering in the No Goodie zone.

She just won’t even try. Not even a whimper.

Dang it.

Ok, so here’s another way to look at this. I will share with y’all a recent happening at our place.

I come home from an afternoon running errands to find a loaf of bread on the dining room carpet. When I say loaf of bread what I really mean is the shreds of a plastic wrapper and a twist tie. When I left the house, the unopened loaf was on the kitchen counter, all safe and sound and wheaty.

I gather the dogs for a family meeting.

I’m a trained professional, says Euka. Ok, well
kinda sorta. I’m still not speaking about it and
you can’t make me.

Who did this? I ask, holding the empty bread wrapper.

I dunno, yawns Micron . I was upstairs guarding your bedroom.

Wasn’t me, says Bodine the Cat and Benevolent Overlord of Sword House. I was busy taking a single bite out of each apple in the fruit bowl. 

[burp], says Jager.

Huh. Right, I already deduced this. It’s not the first time the spotted dog has used his wiles to manage some ill gotten goods.

What’s important to note here is that throughout this exchange, not a word from Euka. She remains very, very quiet on the subject. But looking into her eyes, I know she knows. And she knows I know she knows.

And there you have it.  See?

The girl knows how to keep a secret.  The merits of keeping her lips sealed.

I think that makes her one classy dame.


Speaking (heh, speaking) of obedience training, did you know Canine Companions for Independence offers helpful videos on YouTube?

Check it out. Three minute of good advice about basic obedience.

Basic Obedience: Canine Companions Extraordinary Puppy 

Click here for more videos from

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