Thursday, 26 January 2012

Tricks of the trade

Yesterday, Mila received her very first piece of personalised mail. It was her Beginner's Obedience Class Certificate which now sits proudly on our fridge for the world to see (I had to keep the envelope too - because having something come in mail for "Mila" at our address was just too cute to throw away!) 

We finished obedience classes just over a month ago - before the Christmas break. There, we interacted with heaps of different dog breeds - from other Greyhounds (Senso and Zaha) to a couple of small fluffy things and everything in between. For that reason alone, we found the classes to be a big help and it was good to see Mila socialise with other dogs in a pretty relaxed setting. 

Dog School also taught us a few things that have stuck with us ever since. Mila learnt all the basics: Sit (Sue is right - Greyhounds CAN Sit!! Although our one does it reluctantly - and doesn't seem to like to do it on hard ground...), Down (easy!), Stay (less easy - but we have been working on it and we are getting very good!), Wait, and the good old-fashioned meet & greet. 

Of course, our absolute favourites are the "fun" tricks - the ones that serve no better purpose than to exercise the mind and body - and show the world what a good girl we are because we can follow instructions. 

In no particular order, we have: 

BANG/Play Dead - the hand signal being a finger gun accompanied by the command "Bang". We do this one from Down and it is meant to be a dramatic fall sideways with legs sticking out - a real Play Dead. With Mila, it's more of a slow slump to the side (or sometimes a 6-point "get up, reposition yourself, lie down on your side, stick your legs out, put your head your head on the ground and don't move") - but we know that we've got it when her head touches the ground - and she'll do it every time. She might be a B-Grade actor when it comes to "dying" - but she seems to enjoy it - and it really helps with our Stay. Mike is particularly proud of this trick because - in his words "I taught her that one..."
Practicing BANG! at the park while friend Rupert judges our form.
Stretch - front legs out in front, head bowed and bum in the air. This one is EASY - and usually the default trick if she is trying to get away with not doing what she is told (nice try...). On the odd occasion we have to remind her what a stretch is by doing the actions ourselves (our Downward Facing Dogs are getting good practice) - and then she will stretch along with us. I'm starting to think that she just wants to see me practice my Yoga moves in the middle of the lounge!! 

Roll Over - this is our latest trick - and one we have devised to follow on from Bang. We can now roll both ways - although rolling right usually involves pushing off a wall/person/stationary object. I am amazed that we even got her to do this at all... with her legs up in the air and using what looks like her tail and her neck (or the stationary object) to give her some momentum in the direction she needs, it really is a sight to behold!

We are also great fans of Fetch (although the Return part is not always spot on - particularly if there is a bed within sight) and are currently perfecting our 'Come Here' (Thank God for high-value treats and squeaky toys is all I can say...) Any other ideas for tricks/tips for obedience? We are always looking to extend our repertoire.


  1. I had to let Barbie push off me to get roll over down pat at first, but now she can do it without assistance. Sits & downs on hard surfaces aren't really a Greyhound favorite but they learn that it's the quickest way to get a treat! Barbie had to do her sits & downs in a rough car park with NO treats to get her Canine Good Citizen Award. A good Greyhound trick is 'shake' and then from that you can teach a 'wave'. Barbie also does 'pray' (sits on the ground, puts her feet up on a chair, and then head down...), 'commando' where she crawls along the floor on her belly... 'spin'... and I find her 'bang' still a bit slow and unsatisfactory, I think that's a trick we will leave to the little dogs.

  2. Oh, you and Mila put me and Beryl to shame! Congratulations on her FIRST obedience certificate, I'm sure it won't be the last:) Beryl gets bored very quickly so you'd think it would be relatively easy to teach her to stay but it's proving very difficult. She needs a stay to go further in her CGC. Plus for a down stay she HAS to have a duvet to lie on, sheesh. Talk about a Diva:) She also needs a Mum who is more motivated to train her! It's not her fault.