My Dog Counts in the Wrong Direction!
I recently realized I have been teaching my dog to count completely backwards!
My dog has only ONE command she HAS to obey: When I call her in a special way, and slap my hand against my thigh, the 14 pound, poodle-terrier mix is suppose to come running and jump up with her front paws on one of my thighs as I mess with her neck and count from one to ten.
This command is supposed to be in case she ever enters a dangerous situation without knowing it: If she enters the street; if there's an eagle flying overhead, or if the people she's approaching are either dangerous or scared of dogs, etc.
Call her in the special voice, slap the thigh and once she’s mounted the thigh, count from one to ten. If she's been a good girl, I rub her neck when I'm counting. If she's been bad or not run to me when commanded, I'll hold the fold of her neck like her momma used to -- a sign of dominance. Sometimes, after reaching "Ten," I'll do further discipline as needed: Look her in the eye for attacking smaller dogs (a big "no-no"), disobeying me (a bigger "no-no"), etc.
I count from one to ten so she knows exactly how long she's going to be in this position. Once she hears "Ten," in general she knows she's likely to be dismissed so she can go back to doing whatever she was doing.
When I microwave a pair of hotdogs for lunch, I cut off one tip from each hotdog, slice them in half and feed them to her. They are a nice treat and it lowers my hotdog consumption by a quarter a dog, +/-. As I feed her the four tips I count up, one through four, for each piece.
Today it hit me! I have been teaching my dog to count in the wrong direct! Right now my dog knows that the "calling command" ends at “Ten” and the hotdog count usually ends at “Four.”
What I should have been doing is counting DOWN to zero!
Currently my dog has no concept of “Three” except it follows “Two” and “Five” comes before “Six”. But suppose I wanted to do something or give my dog something that didn't end at FOUR or TEN. How would she know it was the end? If I say "Seven" that means nothing. I cannot say to her, "You can have seven bites" because she doesn't know "Seven" as a stopping point. She knows it as a word between "Six" and "Eight" after being summoned to the leg.
BUT! If I had been teaching her to COUNT DOWN, she'd know that ONE was the last item! "Go get me SEVEN sticks!” and as she brought me the sticks, I would count down, “Seven-six-five-four-three-two-one - - No more!"
Or if I only had TWO bites to give her: "Two-one - - No More!"
So now I have to put on the brakes! Stop her learning in mid-cycle and start counting downward, just so she can realize that "One" is the last one and "Zero" means there are no more.
She's only 5 so the change won't be disastrous; frankly it may be harder for me to remember than her. After she is used to this change, in a couple of months I expect her to understand when an event has ended simply because "One" has arrived and "Zero" is next.
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