Saturday, April 21, 2012

How Do You Hold a Moonbeam (or Charlee Bear) in Your Hand

Our little girl is trouble-free to the extent that we almost forget she’s a Basenji. However, Dasa is so hyper-enthused about food that, given the opportunity, she would steal it out of our hands, off our plates, or intercept it on the way to our mouths. Once when I was walking across our living room with an oatmeal cookie in my hand, Dasa sprang up and stole it midstride. I was left with the tiny bit between my thumb and forefinger.

She also continues in her attempts to lure me from the dinner table by scratching at the back door. I will occasionally get up to see if she really needs to go out, but to her great disappointment, I always put my plate on the counter when I do this. Ivan doesn’t bother; he knows this isn’t going to work, but Dasa is either very determined or incredibly optimistic.

Our feeding routine for the Munchkins, which involves nearly as many exacting and sequential steps as a missile launch, includes having Dasa sit and wait—perhaps only a few seconds, but that’s still enough to having a calming effect—before we set down her dish. 

Dasa gets so excited about treats that she nearly vibrates with excitement and anticipation. She has recently begun pouncing on treats with rather too much enthusiasm. After receiving a few puncture wounds, I’ve learned to spread my hand flat when giving her a treat instead of holding the treat between my fingertips. The Munchkins sit for treats, and Ivan is careful and gentle when taking a treat. Dasa, however, lunges for the treat. We are attempting to teach our tiny girl, who is so dainty and careful in other ways, how to gently take a treat.

High value treats (little pieces of chicken breast) are the most challenging because it’s difficult to remind Dasa to be gentle when there’s chicken to be had.  She’s somewhat better about Charlee Bears.

So far, Plan A, making her sit and admonishing her to be gentle, has had limited success in producing the desired behavior. Ivan seems to understand what “be gentle” means. Dasa, not so much. How do we keep our sweet little girl from leaving teeth marks on my fingers?

1 comment:

  1. A trainer some years ago taught me the Thumb Treat method for an overly enthusiastic Great Dane/Lab mix. i would hold the treat curled up in my hand with my thumb forward. When he lunged, I would make sure the thumb hit the nose. It was not fun for him and he would jump back. When he touched his nose to my thumb gently, I would open my palm to let him have the treat. I have not tried this with my B.R.A.T princess, Nayru. She is a lot like Dasa from the sounds of it. Took a piece of pizza RIGHT out of my hand when I was exhausted from moving to our new place. Little brat. LOL