My dog is smarter than your honor student


One smart puppy

Maybe not really. But Alba is showing us this week just how smart she is.

At our first behavioral training lesson this week we learned to use “separated distance corrections.” In English that means Alba learns to associate something bad with the things we don’t want her to do. We accomplish this with a stern ‘NO’ and tossing a penny-filled can near her. She immediately stops the behavior so we praise her and call her to us and praise some more. So she learns picking up socks from the floor is bad, but we are good. It’s the can that’s scary, not her family. Pretty clever. And like with Pavlov’s dogs she’ll soon associate NO with scary.

Michelle the trainer asked us to do ‘set-ups’ twice a day for two weeks in which we create a situation where Alba can misbehave. Leave a sock on the floor, the dishwasher open, an inviting piece of toilet paper dangling from a table. Well, it’s been just a few days and Alba is too smart to keep letting us set her up. A dirty sock on the floor? If she has to walk by it she veers as far away as she can. In fact, anything out of place she’ll now avoid.

It’s fascinating to watch — you can see her brain clicking away as she makes decisions about what to do. We’re going to have to get more creative to find ways to set her up. May be time to buy some lunchmeat for the first time in my life.

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