Monday, March 15, 2010

Dinner on the run

This is part IV to my treadmill training story.
In yesterday’s blog, I left off at the point where Sensi and I were walking down the hallway to the workout room. I had his food bowl and leash in hand — he was so excited that I was carrying around two of the best things in his life that he was practically bouncing down the hall, sure that something really excellent was about to happen for him.
Once in the room, I had him walk on to the treadmill while it was off and gobble up some treats like we had practiced a month before. He was happy.
I clipped his leash on — he bounced around in a merry little circle. “What’s next, Mom! What’s next!!” my dog would’ve said if he could talk.
Then, I turned the treadmill on to its very lowest setting. I encouraged him to walk on the treadmill, guiding him with one hand and holding treats over the treadmill’s surface with another hand.
He jumped right on the treadmill, grabbed the treats and jumped off.
We repeated this, only, the second time I put my hand with the treats in it farther up the treadmill. This time, he ate the treats but locked up his legs and allowed himself to, rather comically, slide off the back of the treadmill. When his rear feet fell off, he jumped off and away from the treadmill — shocked and a little scared, I’m sure.
But I kept pressing on, encouraging him to do it again. Again, he did the same thing — locking up his legs and allowing the treadmill to carry him backwards until his feet fell off it.
I realized the leash was doing absolutely nothing for me. I unclipped it and tossed it on the floor.
A few more times of trying treats-in-hand and I realized it was not working. The point was not just to get him on the treadmill — though it was a good start — but to actually get him walking on it.
Sensi was also becoming a little impatient about eating his dinner. His eyes remained focused on that bowl of food sitting off to the side of the treadmill.
Without really thinking about it, I grabbed his bowl and stood in front of the treadmill, leaning down to hold the bowl at his level.
Without really thinking about it, he jumped on the treadmill and began eating his food. That is when the magic happened. He just automatically began walking while he ate — not even thinking about it.
“What treadmill? Where?” he might’ve said. He had no idea what was going on. He was just glad to get his dinner. In the interim, he learned how to walk on a moving floor.
When you think about the lack of understanding a dog has about things such as treadmills, it really is an incredible feat.
After he finished his dinner, he jumped off the treadmill. I knelt down beside him and lavished him with praise, using my best high-pitched voice to tell him what a good boy he is. He knew he was golden.
I was so happy with him that we went outside and played for a while.

Check back for another blog on how I’ll use his new-found dinner routine to transition him to running on the treadmill without food.

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