Do your animals ever learn things from each other? Mine sure do… some more so than others.
Dozer is one of my favorite client dogs. I met him around 4 months old on a very random trail no one uses and have walked him 5 days a week since soon after. He and I grew up together, so to speak. I learned a lot about dogs and my job from him – he was one of my OG’s!
One of my favorite things about Dozer is his ability to figure out the best way to get food. And one of the best ways for him to get food as a young adult was to offer any behavior I taught to my dog, Tanner. Dozer would watch Tanner training with me and then walk up and repeat the final behavior.
At first I didn’t notice – Dozer learned a really great nose target, who cares; it’s an easy and fun behavior. Then Dozer started to lay-down every time I raised my hand (a behavior Tanner learned from my mentor). I thought it was cool; maybe I was getting good at training? Tanner learned to wave… Dozer suddenly knew how to shake paws.
I didn’t realize what was going on until Dozer stayed with us. Tanner was impeccably trained to ring bells hanging from the front door to ask to go out to potty. After a day of watching Tanner ring bells, get a leash put on and be taken out – Dozer walked over to the door, knocked the bells and turned to look at me. We went out for a potty and he trotted back in. WHOA. I was (still am) so impressed! What a clever doggie!
Dozer’s most recent awesome form of mimicry was learned from my friend Amy and her dog Melvin who hike with us sometimes. Amy and Melvin play a cool game called “Up On Top” in which Amy points at an odd object and tells Melvin to get up on top and he finds the best way to climb to the top. It’s adorable, but I thought my dogs were too big and clumsy to try. Well, Dozer disagreed with me.
Not too long ago we were all out on a hike and Amy stopped to ask Melvin to climb a tree, Dozer was off leash sniffing about and does the biggest head snap. He then proceeded to do a flying leap OVER Melvin’s head to climb the tree. Dozer quickly found his balance and turned to look at Amy and me with a face that screamed, “I did it, give me the goody.” I gave him all the goodies. It was so cool. Now we play up on top with all the big goofy dogs and it’s a really great confidence and relationship building game! Thanks Dozer (and Amy & Melvin).