Little Man Learning
"It's the word, not the hand. It's the word, not the hand," Lisa repeated in a mix of awe and relief.
"Watch this!" she continued. "Berkley, stay." She held her palm to him in the stay signal.
My little man laid down immediately and longingly looked at Lisa, his very own personal trainer, for a morsel of that deelish chicken breast she used to lure him into great performances. Sad puppy dog eyes went into full "on" mode when he was asked to sit and stay once again, before getting his reward.
"It's the word, not the hand", I heard again.
Eureka! I realized then, that the weeks I had spent teaching my pup to "Go to mat. Sit. Stay" with much success, were now his crutch as we worked on raising the level of his obedience skills. In his canine noggin, "stay" meant lay down and wait. Mama had just been cruising through the "sit" and always rewarded him as long as he stayed on the mat, laying down if he so desired. After all, why not be comfortable?
So, what's the big deal? Well- what if my little man will never ever hold a sit/stay?! What if he'll always stretch right out, no matter where we "stay"? What if we have to come up with a new bizarre command (Lisa suggested "marshmallow") to elicit a laying down behavior? What if?