One of the theories I have about shaping exercises for dogs is that they encourage independent and creative thinking in dogs. We’re not telling the dog what to do, we’re encouraging the dog to think for herself.
Rain has generally needed no encouragement in engaging in independent thought. Many times over the last year I’ve turned my back on a piece of warm toast for just a few seconds, and Rain has come through and snatched it although I was just a couple of steps away. She likes to grab her humans’ objects just to incite us into a game of chase around the house. (She’s very fast.)
Earlier this summer I temporarily suspended her off-leash privileges at our local park because she started leaving our game of fetch (which gives her great exercise) to run to the other side of the park to slurp up some crumbs in a junk food wrapper we passed several minutes before.
If there’s nothing else I’ve learned from Rain, it’s that toddlers spill tons of food on the playground.
This morning I unhooked her leash just to let her do a particular exercise on the play structure at the park. These days, there have been a few squirrels foraging for food in the nearby trees, and there’s nothing Rain loves more than to bark at squirrels. The squirrels weren’t even noticeably there, but I imagine she smelled their scent. As soon as I removed her leash, and without any indication beforehand, she took off for the trees. Fortunately the squirrels weren’t around though, and she came back to me fairly easily.
Now she is at great risk of getting her park off-leash privileges revoked permanently!
Rain is a mischievous little doggy who keeps all of us on our toes. The sad part is that this personality characteristic does keep us from being able to take her all the places and do all the things with her that we’d like. We just keep telling ourselves she will slow down eventually, she will slow down eventually…it’s our job to make sure that doesn’t happen prematurely due to her mischievousness.