10/02/10 My latest trick

Whitevanwoman has been teaching me a new trick called “Legs”. It’s quite an easy trick now that I’ve figured out what “Legs” means – when Whitevanwoman says “Legs” and stands still with her legs apart, I have to walk through her legs. I can’t really see the point of it, but I like learning new tricks and enjoy having some attention from Whitevanwoman so I am a willing student. I have nearly got it sussed all the time now, but sometimes I get a bit mixed up and lie down “dead” instead of doing “legs” because the commands sound similar. Somehow I find I am able to concentrate better and get it right if Whitevanwoman has got a dog biscuit in her hand when she says “Legs”

I can’t help wondering if Whitevanwoman has an ulterior motive for teaching me some new tricks. I have a sinking feeling that maybe this is leading up to me becoming a dancing dog like the ones you see on Crufts on the TV – I do enjoy a little waltz round on my back legs with Whitevanwoman but I really can’t see myself doing all that doggy dancing to music stuff. To be honest, I don’t think I have the build for it – I’m a strong sturdy packhorse kind of dog, not a lean agile athlete.

I don’t know many other dogs who can do as many tricks as me. I’ve listed my best tricks below with an explanation :

  • “Bang! You’re dead!” – when Whitevanwoman points her finger at me like a gun, and says this, I lie down and roll over on to my side, and pretend to be dead (although sometimes I’m not able to stop my tail from wagging). This trick is especially popular with children.
  • “Give me five” – when Whitevanwoman says this and puts out her hand with the palm facing me, I put my paw on it. We like to do this when one of us has done something good.
  • “High five” – similar to the above but Whitevanwoman puts her hand up high and I have to stretch up and touch my paw on her hand.
  • “Tunnel” – this means I have to go through a tunnel or hoop
  • “Speak” (and “Quiet”) – this was one of the first tricks I learned when I was only about 3 months old, and it means I have to bark loudly – I learned this because I was going to be a trainee Mountain Rescue Search Dog and Search Dogs have to “speak” when they find someone who is lost in the fells. Once I had mastered the “Speak” command, Whitevanwoman soon taught me the “Quiet” command, as I was very enthusiastic about speaking (and still am!)
  • “Give me a hug” – Whitevanwoman only says this when she is sitting on the floor because I tend to knock her over otherwise. I sit up and put my front paws on her shoulders and lean my head against her chest, and we have a special moment together
  • “Kiss” – I guess you will all know what this means, but instead of giving Whitevanwoman a juicy smacker on the lips, I give her a quick lick on the end of her nose. I don’t think she particularly likes getting dog slobber on her mouth
  • “Dance” – Whitevanwoman puts her arm out and I stand up on my back legs and rest my front legs on her arm and we waltz around
  • “Turn round” – whichever way I am facing when I am standing up, I have to turn round and face the other way – I learned this whilst being brushed by Whitevanwoman, so that she can brush both sides of me
  • “Get back” – this means either walk backwards or go back to where I was depending on the circumstances – usually when I have been told to “stay” but I sneak off and Whitevanwoman tells me to “Get back”. Sometimes she says it when I am standing in front of her and stopping her from moving forward, so then it means that I have to walk backwards in front of her. It can be very confusing but I can usually tell from Whitevanwoman’s body language what she wants me to do.
  • “Get up” – this is another command that means different things in different situations – if the back door of the white van is open, it means that I have to jump in the back and lie in my bed in the white van, but if we are out on a walk and there is a fence or stone wall we have to get over, it means that I have to jump over it.
  • “Find it!” – one of my favourite commands and tricks, I have to go and find something. Again it depends on the circumstances – when I was learning how to be a Search Dog, “Find it” meant that I had to run off up the fell and sniff the wind to look for people who were lost (or pretending to be lost), but when we are at home, it means I have to find my toys. When we are out for a walk, and Whitevanwoman has thrown the tennis ball or dropped her glove or something else, it means I have to find it.
  • “Fetch” – this is another command which means different things in different situations – when Whitevanwoman holds something next to my mouth and tells me to “Fetch”, I have to take hold of it in my mouth and carry it. Sometimes she points at something (like a stick or ball) and then “Fetch” means go and pick it up and bring it back to Whitevanwoman.
  • “Give” – this means to let go of whatever I’ve got in my mouth
  • “Push” – this means opening the door by pushing it with my nose – Whitevanwoman often gets me to do this when she is carrying things
  • “Pleased to meet you” – this means offering my paw to someone to shake, I also have to say “Please” by doing the same thing before I’m allowed to eat my dinner
  • “Manners” – When Whitevanwoman says this it means that I have to walk behind her and let her go in front – she usually says it when I’m on the lead and we are walking somewhere narrow or going through a gate.
  • “Are you hungry?” – my favourite trick – I dash over to my dinner bowl, grab it in my mouth and take it to Whitevanwoman, often throwing it at her, although I think she prefers it when I put it nicely in her hand. Then Whitevanwoman fills it with dog food and I have to say “Please” and then I can tuck in.

 Of course, there are also the usual every day commands that most dogs know such as Sit, Lie down, Stand, Come here, Heel, Move out of the way, – these commands are second nature to me now, and so I don’t think of them as special tricks.

But I can’t help wondering if perhaps Whitevanwoman is thinking of putting all my tricks together one after the other, like the dogs which dance to music do. I’m not sure if I really fancy that as it will mean alot of learning and alot of practice, although so long as the training involves plenty of dog treats, I wouldn’t mind And now that I think about it, it would be quite good fun and I would get plenty of attention from people so I might just give it a go. I’ll keep you posted about our progress.

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