Job Creation For Wally | Exploits of an Amateur Dog Trainer: Blog Edition

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Job Creation For Wally

Cotons aren't noted for having "jobs" like a working or sporting breed, but I try to come up with things Wally can do for me as "jobs" that he is physically able to do and uses the behaviors he's already learned. So, like with a human job, I try to come up with Wally's "résumé" of sorts - a list of things he can do that could be put to work.

  • Barks loudly, especially for the size of dog he his. Cotons don't have yippy, "little dog barks" and that's certainly true of Wally. This let's me hear him bark in almost every place in the house no matter where he is or I am.
  • Likes to use his paws.
  • Can push things with his nose
  • Will stay in one spot if so instructed
  • Has some ability to pick up small/light objects
With these skills in mind, I have to come up with things I have teach him how to do and that he could do either on a quick cue and he can carry the task to completion, or he can do based on environment (what he sees and hears triggers him to do that task).

This will be something of a project for us but he has some of jobs already.

  • He opens and closes doors for me (though we are still working on the closing part, and developing new cues to make the sound distinct - for now we are using "abres" and "cierras" spanish for "open" and "close")
  • Whenever a timer goes off in the kitchen or the kettle is whistling, he barks loudly so I can hear it, even if I can't hear the actual sound (like I'm in the basement). Sometimes he'll even hear the ding of the toaster oven timer from the basement and bark!
  • We're working on this but if I drop something small or light, I'd like to have him pick it up and hold it for me. We're working on both the pick up and hold/carry, and him doing it when something drops without a verbal cue from me.
  • If there were light switches on the floor, I'd have him push them with his paws, but alas... 
  • With planting season right around the corner, I wonder if he could dig holes in containers or loosen up the soil...


He enjoys doing these things. Seems like it gives him something to do and think about and of course he loves the praise and rewards he gets for a job well done. Then there's just another thing we can spend time together doing - all things dogs love. Hopefully, we'll be able to learn more behaviors and get better at these things so he can continue to learn and gain more confidence as a "houseworking dog" of sorts!