Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’!
Sunday November 1st 2015
Our progress on the polite eating programme stalls. For about ten days we have been stuck at the one yap per meal stage.
Polymath counsels me to proceed with caution. A little dog who suffered food deprivation needs time.
In theory, she’s right. And I’ve always had to curb a tendency to push teaching too fast; nevertheless, I have my doubts about Hairy One’s motivations.
Now I am getting to know her better. And I have the strong impression that she’s decided that one food removal per bark is a reasonable sacrifice. After all, she only has to wait for a count of a hundred once the noise has ceased and she gets the food back.
Additionally, I’ve noticed that the yap now occurs when she is two thirds through her meal.
This is a huge improvement. Before the training began, as some of us may remember, she snarled, growled, yapped and jumped up the wall from the moment she began eating, then threw a tail grabbing tantrum as soon as her dish became empty.
I am pleased with what she has achieved. At the same time I have a very strong gut feeling that she can do better.
On Thursday evening, I tell her sternly, “Right, Isis, enough is enough.”
When she is two thirds of the way through her meal, I take away the bowl. As usual, she protests vociferously, scattering bits of food far and wide.
But this time, instead of lurking in the porch with the bowl, I hide it away and sit myself in front of the computer.
As I work, Isis, of course, goes ape. She yaps and growls and spins and chases her tail.
I ignore her.
After ten minutes, she stops the nonsense and stands in the doorway, nose pointing towards the kitchen.
I fetch her food and return it to her. She finishes it quietly and receives her reward – the last tenth of her food. She polishes this off calmly: only one muffled little woof.
She is rewarded with a special treat.
It’s Friday morning.
I stand by as usual while she eats. I wait for the yap. She still chokes down her food, of course, but, I can hardly believe it, no yap.
Delighted, I praise her extravagantly as I proffer the ‘treat’ dish.
She lets out a volley of yips and upturns the dish. That’s O.K. Doing what you are told is not palatable.
Since this phase of meal-time training has begun, I’ve noticed that she sometimes regresses to having a little woof during food preparation. I just stop what I’m doing and wait. And more often than not, there’s a half-hearted tail spin afterwards. Then the special reward is withheld. Hopefully, these unwanted behaviours can be tidied up later.
I am very happy with her.
What a smart little podengo!
Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact email@example.com or www.dogwatchuk.co.uk