The ice puppy cometh (Here!)

We continue to think Adagio’s biggest idiosyncrasy is his oddball response to our opening  his kennel door. Every other CCI pup we’ve raised has sprung to its feet, tagging wagging, and rushed out. But Adagio usually doesn’t budge, even when he’s been whining (as he did this morning at 5:30 am). We implore him to emerge, but he just sits there, languid, gazing at us. We don’t get it, though we suspect this quirk may run in his family. (Last week in puppy class, his sister Apple did it after being directed to enter the class kennel as an exercise. She promptly went in. Then refused to come out. Everyone was most amused.)

I’m starting to work on a new approach: training Adagio that kennel exits get him really wonderful treats. One of his favorite things in the world is ice. (Again, God knows why.)

When he sits in the kennel in Steve’s office, I’ve started going to the nearby fridge, opening the freezer, and extracting a cube or two. Adagio knows this sound and comes at a gallop.

I’ve also started practicing the Here game with him. We invented this activity years ago, when we would return from a walk with our current pup and Tucker. At the front door, we would remove their leashes but make them sit outside while I entered the house. After increasingly long intervals, I would then utter a piercing, “Here!” They clearly loved this ritual, and in all the years we’ve done it, I’ve never had a puppy stop focusing on the treat inside the house and wander off down the block.

Tucker’s now too old to go on long walks with us, but I’ve modified the game a bit and have introduced Adagio to it. I’m also doing it in the back yard. I make him and Tucker sit and stay, then I walk some distance away. Tension builds. Often the dogs start drooling. Finally, I command, “Here!” and they race toward me (Adagio races, Tucker ambles as fast as he can.) It’s obvious they think this is great fun.

It has occurred to me that I need to practice all this with Adagio — luring him with the ice; playing the Here game. Eventually I figure I’ll open the kennel door. Take one step away. Cry “Here!” And he’ll rocket out. That’s the plan.

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