Your dog loves learning her second language: Human. Human can be quite a difficult language to learn, but Tulip is ready to try (especially if there are food rewards involved). She just asks her human to remember that she is a beginner and to try to be a good teacher.
Good language instructors are clear. They are concise and give the student time to process. Repeating the word over and over and with extra volume may be telling Tulip you think she is hard of hearing. Instead, she prefers you ask for “down” and use a swift, clear hand signal then wait to give her time to decipher your meaning. She adores when a tiny moist piece of fabulous food tells her she made the right choice. Then she expects you to be consistent and use that same word and gesture. Switching to “lie down” (please not “lay down”) or “could you down please?” is too complicated. She reminds you that you hated synonyms when you were learning Spanish. Basics first.
Speaking of consistency, one human teaching a new cue is so helpful. One human only until Tulip is very sure of what that Human word means. When the red-haired female human says “down,” she flicks her wrist in a way the tall male human doesn’t. Is that a different word? Just a different accent? Now that Tulip actually understands “down,” the other humans in her life can ask for the behavior. And why does a different human bring her to group class every time? Last week the red-haired female learned so much, but she didn’t tell the tall male human anything about the class, and Tulip is just shaking her head in disbelief. She has to teach the tall male everything all over again!
Tulip loves when the humans share the homework sheets and put cue words in the list on the refrigerator. She loves when they remember the actual language they’ve chosen. She wishes they would review the cues more often throughout her day. She can cram before her weekly class, but when her people practice with her regularly, her heart soars! She is learning to be fluent in Human! She is ready for harder phrases and fancier hand signals and new and exciting skills. C’mon, human, help Tulip be all she can be. Speak clearly, wait for her brain to light up, then reward and praise and reward and praise and reward and praise! Hooray for fabulous humans!
I love this. Going to share with my sister and their puppy up in Sacramento
What a lovely blog post! I always learn so much from you!